Take a break for a more productive day
There are many different types of breaks that you can take, whether it’s a walk to the coffee maker, taking time to eat a delicious lunch, roaming around the office or simply talking to your co-workers.
Breaks give you the chance to regroup and come back to work feeling re-energized and more productive, but the type of break makes an impact on your work.
Baylor University researchers found that there are three factors during your break that affect productivity once you return to work.
The best time to take a work day break is mid-morning.
Typically employees work diligently all morning and then rewarding themselves by taking a longer lunch break. However, researcher say a break before lunch can replenish energy, concentration and motivation.
“We found that when more hours had elapsed since the beginning of the work shift, fewer resources and more symptoms of poor health were reported after a break. Therefore, breaks later in the day seem to be less effective,” said Emily Hunter, Ph.D., researcher for the study, in a news release.
A break should include activities employees enjoy.
There is a popular assumption that a “better break” involves activities that are non-work related, but there is no evidence that non-work related activities are more beneficial.
For a “better break,” simply do an activity you enjoy. It could be reading a book, checking your personal email, or even work related activities you enjoy. As long as the activity is something you prefer to do, your break will be a good “resting” period and can help you return to work re-energized.
It is more beneficial to take frequent short breaks instead of longer ones.
Although the study did not determine an ideal length of time for your break, the research concluded that higher amounts of shorter breaks were associated with better productivity, concentration and energy. Frequent breaks lead to better recovery.
“It is better to prevent mental and physical exhaustion than it is to recove from it,” says Jennifer McCauley, licensed clinical social worker at Advocate Medical Group in Normal, Ill. “Think about an injury, it takes more time to heal than it does to rest your body in order to prevent an injury.”
Taking frequent short breaks while doing activities that you enjoy would be the ideal work day, but there are times where you are swamped with work and are on a deadline. Even on these days, taking a break is still important.
“Not taking breaks during the workday can lead to anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability and mental exhaustion,” says McCauley. “For those who work in sedentary positions, not taking breaks can also lead to muscle tension, back problems, lower metabolism and can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes.”
She also notes that higher stress results in smaller brain volumes in the prefrontal cortex that controls thinking, decision making, learning, remembering and planning, which is why it takes longer to complete work tasks and more mistakes are made when breaks are not taken.
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About the Author
Tiffany Nguyen, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing intern at Advocate Support Centers in Downers Grove, IL. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a degree in public health. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration focusing specifically on healthcare management at Lewis University. Tiffany enjoys hanging out with her friends, exploring new restaurants, and binge watching Netflix shows.