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7 – Scientific reasons why taking frequent breaks boosts productivity

This might come as a surprise to you if you’re one of those diligent people who believe in working for long hours without a break. You may think that taking breaks would break your train of thought, or that you would be seen as shirking work. Or maybe you’re already one of those people who have to take breaks between your work, and have long suspected that your short breaks were the answer to your high productivity. Now, studies have proved that taking frequent breaks does boost productivity. Take a look at these scientific reasons why giving yourself short breaks in the middle of work is actually better for your work.

7 Scientific reasons why frequent breaks increases productivity

1.     It helps you work in a focused manner

DesktimeAn app called Desktime, which tracks time, found that extremely productive people work for about 52 minutes. They then take a break for about 17 minutes. The Desktime people also noted that employees who have the highest level of productivity don’t work for 8 hours a day (wouldn’t you like to be in that position!). The secret therefore, is that breaks boost productivity and helps to work efficiently, as their mind is rested and rejuvenated.

Thus, one of the scientific reasons which account for the success of athletes, chess players, actors, musicians etc is that they practice uninterrupted for a particular amount of time, take a break and begin again. The breaks help them to focus on their craft and they practice on intentional manner which complete concentration.

2.     Allowing yourself to rest helps to you give 100%

Allowing yourself to rest Taking frequent breaks allows you to rest your brain and you return to work in a dedicated manner for short periods of time. You’d be surprised at how much you accomplished in half an hour, if you took a break, when you were not able to crack the work problem the whole day. It revives your spirits and your work benefits from your replenished energy.

3.     Step away from your desk once in an hour enhances creativity

intense workWhether you are an artist, a professor, an IT genius or in any other field of work, taking a break helps to enhance your creativity. Your choice to work in sprints, whether it’s working for half an hour, or 52 minutes or anything in between, experts say will help to recover from intense work.

One of the scientific reasons according to some recent studies is that that our brains become numb to the constant demand of work. To avoid this, and to keep creating, talk for some time with a friend, or watch a video which is funny, or watch something which is inspiring, or just close your eyes and take a deep breath. This much needed break will help to look at things in a different light, find new insights or figuratively.

4.     Frequent breaks keep you goal oriented

goal orientedA break, described as briefly refraining from any activity, can actually be linked to the well-being of PFC or the pre-frontal cortex. The PFC is the part of the brain which helps you think and keeps you on track to achieve your goals. Executive functioning, logical thought and enabling willpower is the function of PFC.

According to scientific reasons, taking breaks provides rest to the PFC which is why people who take breaks throughout the day are able to achieve their goals.

5.     Movement breaks keep you emotionally and physically healthy

Movement breaks keep you emotionally and physically healthyYou can stay at your desk and take a break, or else move out and take a walk around the office. That movement breaks have many health benefits is well-researched. Many studies have shown that sitting continuously for a long time make you prone to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression etc.

Getting up and stretching, walking, doing yoga, or a run around the block will enhance your emotional as well as physical health. A sedentary work-life leads to you being less creative, while moving get the blood flowing to your brain, which gets a boost.

So breaks boost productivity, as when you’re healthy and feel fit, you can concentrate on your work and finish it in a more than satisfactory manner.

6.     Breaks help in decision clarity

decisionOne of the scientific reasons is that breaks help you make better decisions. You may have to make a lot of decisions throughout the day, which definitely gets you done. Studies have shown that your work benefits when you stop working for a while and ‘just chill’, as your head becomes clearer and you’re able to judge better and do not take simplistic decisions or the easy way out. This undoubtedly is great for your work, another instance which should inspire you to take more breaks.

7.     Taking micro breaks every 20 minutes elevates awareness levels

woman Taking micro breakOne study published in ‘Cognition’, demonstrated that we can maintain our focus or concentration levels, without interruption, for only about 15-20 minutes. It seems if we look away, or think about something else, read a news snippet, or take deep breaths, look at a beautiful painting or photo or any other pleasurable activity, reduces stress and enhances awareness.

This is another of the scientific reasons why taking micro breaks for a few seconds boosts productivity. BTW, even yawning and stretching is considered scientifically to be a stress-busting activity!

Let go of your innate resistance to breaks to perform better

brain is tiredIf you have been in the habit of working continuously without breaks, though you do notice that your brain is tired, it’s time to let go of conventional ways of working and start working smart. You should start taking a small break when you notice your brain slowing down. Get up and get some coffee or tea or just drink some warm water, if you want to avoid beverages.

Most of us don’t take a break in one hours, let alone every 20 minutes. But as there are so many great scientific reasons to do so, you have to think of the benefits of frequent breaks for your work and don’t feel guilty about a little off-time during work.


Dr Prem Jagyasi and Team (c)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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