Take a Break: Hitting Pause Can Lead to Some of Your Best Work
Published: Feb. 5, 2020
In order to have more time with my family, I work fewer, longer days.
The struggle in doing so is ensuring that my time away from home is well-spent.
At the end, or even in the middle of a long day, I often tell myself:
Just keep going.
Head down, get it done.
Don’t stop now.
Stopping seems like the exact wrong thing to do when there’s so much to be done.
But, it turns out that those of us who take that extra time for ourselves may be onto something.
Refreshed minds perform better
Just like our bodies get tired, our brains can experience fatigue – especially at the end of the day. Decision-making, interest and patience all wear down with use.
In the same way rest during exercise allows us to return to the same exercise with greater strength and better form, taking a brain break results in renewed perspective and refreshed focus.
How long should a break be?
Research indicates that humans focus best for 60-90 minutes at a time. Of course, this can vary by person and by task. So what should the break schedule look like? There are plenty of opinions.
Common recommendations online suggest taking a break of three to 15 minutes at least once per hour.
Recent data collected by a productivity app found that the most productive workers take breaks for 17 minutes for every 52 minutes worked.
And the popular Pomodoro Technique of productivity recommends working intervals of 25 minutes followed by a three- to five-minute break. After the fourth session of work, a longer break of 15-30 minutes is recommended.
Regardless of how frequent and long the break, it should involve something relaxing – or at least not associated with your work. For example, you might:
- Go for a short walk
- Grab a healthy snack
- Stretch or do light exercises
- Perform deep breathing exercises
- Chat with a coworker
Give yourself a break
Taking a break can boost creativity and renew energy. You might find that stepping away leads to some of your best work.
So, go ahead. Take a break if you can. It may be just what you need to take your productivity to the next level.