Taking a break at work might not seem like the most obvious productivity tip. Perhaps you think taking time off would be counterproductive? However, research shows that the opposite is true! Taking regular breaks can boost creativity, help to relieve stress and improve interpersonal relationships.
How do you know it’s the right time to take a break? Experts agree it might be more frequently than most people think! Business Optimizer takes a look at when to take a break and how to make your work breaks work better for you.
1.Break like a tomato
Lately, the Pomodoro productivity method – which recommends breaking work into 25-minute intervals, with short five-minute breaks – has attracted a lot of attention. The idea of working in short sprints and then taking short breaks fits in well with the way we work today; it even uses the language of agile.
The Pomodoro approach to productivity was created by Francesco Cirillo, who self-published his ideas in 1999. Strangely enough, the technique is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Cirillo first used to perfect his productivity system; “pomodoro” is tomato in Italian (Cirillo’s native tongue).
2.Optimise your desk time
Recently, new research from the time-tracking app DeskTime and the Draugiem Group has suggested that extending bursts of work to 52 minutes and then taking a 17-minute break can be even more effective.
The research found that the top ten percent of the group’s most highly productive employees share this type of “stop and go” workflow. The researchers think that by taking a 17-minute break, workers are able to return refreshed and ready to take on the next 52 minutes.
3.Don’t switch off completely
What to do with those 17 minutes though? How can you best spend your break time?
Interestingly, a 2012 study from researcher Charlotte Fritz of Portland State University, suggests this answer might also not be what you think…
Frtiz looked at the microbreaks we take throughout our working day. She found that the non-work-related microbreaks did not help people to feel energised. Rather, it was the work-related tasks – learning something new, realising the meaningful pieces about your work, or connecting positively with others at work – were the microbreaks that helped workers to feel more boosted at work.
Fritz points out, “what works during vacation might not necessarily work during the lunch time.”
4.How work breaks can help your productivity
So the studies do suggest taking a break at work can help you be more productive. But those breaks shouldn’t involve switching off completely – for the best results, spend your breaks on rewarding but work-related activities.
Fritz does emphasize the need to switch off completely, but recommends saving that for when you get home!