How do you take a break?
I’ve got too much on.
I’m too busy.
I don’t have the time to do my desk exercises.
Wow I feel like I achieved nothing today.
I wish I had time to fit it all in.
There is no denying that research has found that taking a break can be very beneficial for you and your work. Micro-breaks, lunchtime breaks and longer breaks, have all been shown to have a positive relationship with wellbeing and productivity. However, when we look at taking regular short relaxing and social breaks to boost your performance in-between these longer breaks, we don’t usually associate the positive impact it can have on our performance. So, it’s now for me to convince you otherwise.
First off let’s look at the definition of a break in the oxford dictionary;
a short period of time when you stop what you are doing and rest, eat, etc.
So firstly, a lot of us are likely to be guilty of not taking a true definition of a “break”. Eating at our desk, spending it in a meeting or talking about work related subjects, completing other tasks of responsibility like on the phone to your accountant or sorting out that quote for your renovation you are planning. These are all tasks that rob us of our rest and then play a negative effect on us physically and mentally. So, taking the view that your small breaks throughout the day should be seen more as a well-planned micro holiday as opposed to get something else done is a great way to get your time, mental and physical state back again and increase productivity.
Relaxing and social breaks have been found by the University of Konstanz to be particularly beneficial to facilitate recovery, by returning your mental and psychical functional systems to their baseline. Coupling this with some quick physical exercise when getting back to the workstation (click here) you are in a great position to tackle those work tasks efficiently again. Additionally, a relaxing break can help to reset your mood, thereby promoting positive wellbeing and reducing stress (which tell me a person who would like less stress in their jobs). A two-phase study by Wagner, Olguin, Kim & Petland found that social breaks, such as chatting with your peers, have also been found to be beneficial. Social interactions allow you to share your experiences and feel part of a group. This feeling of relatedness, during a social break shows a positive association with feeling recovered after the break. So have a have a short chinwag with your colleges every once in a while.
And I can’t believe I’m saying this one but in 2009, Australian researchers found that workers who spent up to 20% of their time during the day scrolling the internet were 9% more productive than peers who avoided cyberloafing altogether. Although this approach has its limits: productivity levels were shown to dip when subjects spent more than 20% of their day online. Dr Brent Coker, the study’s lead researcher, suggested workers visit the sites that make them the happiest. “The more enjoyable the break, the better it was in terms of boosting productivity” so maybe watching that funny video that your mate sent you on messenger (in your break time of course) has more than just a positive effect for you personally but you work as well.
So it sounds like there is not a lot of work going on here with all the research showing we should be not working and chatting to our friends instead. But there is a view and research out there that the most productive workers will work for around 52 minutes and then take a break for up to 17 minutes where they will completely step away from what they are doing and spend time to ‘break’ then when they get back to their work again the next 52 minutes are completely uninterrupted and focussed, as opposed to checking your phone every 5 minutes like we tend to do when our concentration starts to wean.
Maybe there is power in giving yourself complete rest for a quarter hour or even try 5 -10 minutes every hour first and see how that goes.
No video today as I invite you out on your break to find something that gives back to you and help you switch off.
A lower need for recovery was significantly and positively associated with relaxation at work and detachment at work.
– Coffeng JK, van Sluijs EM – J Phys Act Heal
Researchers at Georgetown University in the USA found that while studying subjects dozing, their right hemisphere of their brain was considerably more active than their left which could be associated to processing data and consolidating memories while at rest, therefore increasing mental performance and efficiency.
Desk time (a desk-based productivity timer and app) who receive 5.5 million logged records per day, found that their most productive users followed the 52:17 rule.
Definitely my go to once to twice a day for 20 minutes, International Studies published in peer reviewed journals have found that regular meditation can reduce chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
PUMP IT UP
Spend your mini break doing some quick exercises, this is something you don’t even need to leave your workspace for. For some great desk exercises click here.
FIESTA FOR SIESTA
I know this sounds like a trip back to our pre-school days but a snooze – even as little as 10 minutes – can improve alertness, memory and cognitive performance.
Even a task as simple as multi-tasking can take a toll on your mental energy. Allow yourself a regular brake of a few moments to “reset” your brain. Daydreaming is a good way of letting you brain to “cool down” so to speak from the prolonged focused brain activity, “however moderation is the key” says Stanford University professor Vinod Menon.
Enquire about how you can get a desk exercise program at your workplace