2 Ways to Hone the Art of Taking a Break

coffeeWant to Maximize Your Efficiency? Take Breaks

In our technology-world, we’re rarely away from our jobs. We compulsively check email and are expected to respond to queries, whether or not we’re on the clock. While this seems like an efficient way of doing business, it may be doing more harm than good. In fact, exhausted or frustrated employees make for lackluster workers; rested and paced personnel provide the best results. Here’s the evidence:

Those cute pictures of puppies you keep eyeing in between tasks? They’re not a waste of company time. According to researchers at Hiroshima University, “tenderness elicited by cute images” sharpens our focus and motor skills.

There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests vacations from the office reboot your brain and prepare you to take on or embrace new challenges.

Is your boss not keen on the idea of telecommuting? A 2013 study of call workers shows that working from home actually improves company performance.

Taking breaks isn’t slothful decadence; it’s an essential part of a productive workday. We often hear the term “work/life balance” bandied about by coaches and lifestyle gurus, but how do you achieve it? Chasing this elusive dream is as simple as carving out some time for yourself – and it doesn’t have to be an elaborate sojourn to Fiji.

Harness the Power of the Work Break

An experiment released in 2014 suggests there’s an optimum time for a work break. DeskTime, a productivity app, found the most productive workers followed 52 minutes of work with a 17 minute break. The clincher? These 17 minutes should be spent away from the physical workspace. So how should you spend this free time before diving back in to productivity?

Take a walk. Whether it’s up and down the stairwell, around the block, or even just tracing the halls of your complex, get the blood into your brain with a little exercise. It’s good for your productivity – and your heart.

Gather around the water cooler. Or the Keurig, or whatever else your company has set up in the breakroom. Chatting with peers about things other than work gives your brain the time it needs to recharge and refocus.

Read a book. Cozying up to your favorite novel for a few minutes can boost your creativity.

work-relax-signUnplug After Work

Don’t spend your after-work hours glued to your phone. Engage in an activity that brings you joy and relaxation. For some, it’s a yoga class or a tough cycling session; for others, it’s watching a cooking demonstration or a recent blockbuster. Whatever you choose, commit to a couple of hours away from your work email and professional obligations each day.

The brain is a muscle, and just like we need to rest between bouts of exercise, we need to give our cranium a chance to reboot. Taking a pause does more than just help you feel relaxed; it makes you a better worker and helps you stay focused and productive. In today’s hectic, constantly tuned-in world, that’s all the reason you need to cut yourself some slack.

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