Sometimes it can be hard to take a break when you’re at work. Busy workloads and taboos around taking a timeout mean that people can keep their heads buried in work for an entire workday.
But that’s not good for you, or for anyone else.
3 reasons you should take a break
1. The human brain wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it. If you try to push it, you’ll eventually go from feeling productive to zoning-out and making mistakes. You’ve probably experienced this when working on a long and intensive project. Taking a break means that you’ll be more productive and clear-headed when you return to tasks.
2. Daydreaming is actually productive. When you allow your mind to wander, different parts of it will activate. Ever had a breakthrough while you were doing something inane, like taking a shower? Your brain was active in those seemingly “passive” mind-moments and providing you with invaluable insights.
3. Taking a time out gives you the chance to get out of the weeds and re-evaluate your efforts. Are you still heading in the right direction, or have you gone off course? If you work with your head down all of the time, it’s easy to keep trudging along with an approach that’s become outdated. Lift up your head, take a break, and get some perspective on your efforts.
Find a way that works for you
How and when you want to take your breaks will depend on your type of work and workload. Luckily, there are many different approaches you can try to find the right one. Here are just a few:
1. Work in short sprints and take regular short breaks. For every 25 minutes of work, take five minutes off. Every two or three hours, take a longer break to really give your brain a rest.
2. Work in longer blocks, an hour or 90-minutes, then take medium length breaks, such as 15-20 minutes.
3. If that many breaks seems unrealistic to you because of the type of work you do, take a more casual and achievable approach. Why not try scheduling in two or three 10-15 minutes breaks for the entire day instead?
It’s your break, so own that and use it productively!