Have you ever noticed that when you create too many things to do, you end up getting less done? Or when you get into hyper-focus mode for hours at a time, you work a little slower? Did you know scheduling more intentional breaks in your day can actually increase your productivity?
It seems counter-intuitive, but the research shows that giving yourself time to unwind and take a brain break simply allows you to get your work done faster. Not only that, but breaks also provide many other benefits, including:
- Preventing burnout and ensuring high productivity
- Reduces stress and supports creativity
- Ensures better quality and innovative work
- Improves your mental health and happiness
- Creates more harmony with work and life
I had a hard time at first making my plans for taking breaks a priority. I would worry about being behind and work right through the scheduled time. Or I might say “yes” too fast to other’s requests and give the time away.
Two things I know now for sure: First, if you don’t build in breaks with your schedule, you won’t take them. And, second, if you don’t take your breaks, you are more likely to work at a slower pace and experience a negative impact on your day.
Here are a few break scheduling tips to keep in mind:
Schedule Short 5 to 15 Minute Breaks
Give yourself a short break every 75 to 90 minutes of work. Research shows that short bursts of productive work with breaks in between work best. And, taking a five to fifteen-minute break is usually long enough to allow you to unwind but not long enough to allow you to lose focus and motivation completely.
Use Your Microbreaks Wisely
Completely step away from your work during your breaks. Don’t use this time for anything but give your brain and body the time it needs to relax and recharge. Take a brisk walk and get some fresh air, go for a healthy protein and complex carb snack, meditate, or take a small nap.
Stick to the Scheduled Time
Don’t be talked into meetings or other tasks over your scheduled breaks. Stick to it and use this time for you only, and don’t feel guilty for it either. If it’s in your schedule, it is not time you can use for anything else. Don’t let your breaks run over the scheduled time either. You may want to use the timer on your cell phone, or an alarm in your workspace that brings you back as you need it.
Taking Care of Yourself Also Takes Better Care of Your Life
If you are always pushing yourself to get as much done as possible, it’s more likely going to lead to disappointment, feelings of falling short, and resentment that you don’t have time for the rest of your life. Over time, these feelings will affect your work negatively. You must take care of yourself and what matters to you the most to properly prevent it.
Distractions vs. Breaks: Know the Difference
Don’t just distract yourself. Breaks and distractions are different. Distractions waste your time and prevent you from achieving your goals. The point of a break is to unwind and feel refreshed and ready to get your work done. Make sure you do things you know will accomplish these tasks. Avoid anything that leaves you feeling frustrated and lethargic. Don’t use this time to watch political YouTube videos or talk to a frustrating coworker, for example.
In the end, breaks are beneficial to your productivity as long as you actually schedule them and use them efficiently.
Robin Nordmeyer, PCAC, CLC
ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach, Owner/Founder