The prevalence of portable electronics has pushed us as professionals to always be “on.” Because we can work from anywhere, we often feel like we should work from everywhere. But is this constant drive to produce actually harming our productivity?
Many experts believe the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” Various studies have returned with results showing that there are many reasons to take a break from work during the workday.
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Why breaks matter
It turns out that not taking enough breaks can actually harm your performance. Those who spend too much time working and not enough time relaxing or taking time for themselves, run out of energy and desire to commit to working. Try to remember this the next time you’re tempted to pull an all-nighter or finish up a project before you allow yourself to rest.
Feel guilty for time away from your desk? Don’t! It turns out that taking short, frequent breaks during the workday gives you more stamina, helping you reboot for better performance when you come back. and fewer aches and pains. A 10-minute walk around the block can allow you to return feeling energized, and give your body a chance to reset.
But a “break” doesn’t even have to be that long to matter. Pausing for as little as 30 seconds can have brain-boosting effects. A trip to the water cooler; getting up to ask a question of a colleague rather than calling or emailing; you don’t have to take multiple half-hour breaks in order to improve your day.
Incorporating mini-breaks into your schedule is a good way to leverage these strategies without wondering too much about them.
What does an effective break look like?
Once you’ve committed to take work breaks, you need to decide how you’re going to utilize that time. Pulling your fingers away from the keyboard only to continue thinking about your to-do list probably isn’t going to increase productivity. Likewise, scrolling through social media posts at your computer is unlikely to provide the electronic break you need to refresh your brain. So, what can you do?
- Take a walk for fresh air, cleared head, and a slightly increased heart rate.
- Try out one of these quick ways to de-stress from the workday while on break. A guided meditation can do wonders for making the time away feel impactful.
- Ease the strain on your body with these neck stretches and posture adjustments
- Brush up on the ergonomics of your workspace so it feels better when you return to it.
- Go on a coffee run with a coworker. Not only have friendships in the workplace been found to increase productivity, scheduling your breaks together mean you’re less likely to stay at the computer when breaktime rolls around.
- Give yourself a lunch break—a real lunch break.
- Take a field trip to stock up on brain-friendly foods that will nourish you during all the mental work you’re tasked with.
Whatever method you choose for breaking up your work day, try to remember that those moments away from the desk will only make you happier, healthier, and more productive. We recognize that the idea of taking breaks is counterintuitive to the way many legal professionals were trained. Nonetheless, we encourage you to try taking meaningful breaks for one week. We’re fairly certain you’ll love the results.
How do you incorporate taking a break into your workday? Share your favorite respite activities in the comments.