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In Defense of Taking Breaks

| Breakrooms, Health and Wellness, Office Life


Jan 14 2014

You might be looking to better manage your time or maybe you are just having a hard time juggling the many and varied tasks you have to complete throughout the work day. It’s tempting in certain situations to just use your lunch break to make up time by working all the way through it. The extra half hour or hour of work may just be the perfect, extra amount of time that you need to get a few things done. However, based on a growing body of research, it’s probably best to avoid that temptation all together.


It turns out that taking periodic breaks actually makes us more productive. Instead of staying glued to your desk, it pays in the long run to give your brain a rest. Creating a schedule where you skip taking breaks can lead up to both massive stress and exhaustion. Consequently, a stressed and exhausted worker simply can’t be as productive or as efficient as a well- rested and calm one can be.


So how do you avoid skipping lunch and forgoing other breaks? It may be easier than you think. The key here is that it is less about working more but instead about working smarter. A way that may help you to achieve this is by schedule time for breaks and time for work. Don’t go overboard with the breaks, but make sure it’s enough to keep your mind refreshed. One strategy is to set a silent alarm every hour on your computer – when it goes off, take the time to stand, stretch your legs and maybe walk around for a minute or two. Whether you go to grab a glass of water or you’re just taking a stroll, these consistent and short breaks allow for a simple rejuvenation and a change of scenery. Standing at least every hour has also shown to combat the health risks associated with sitting all day at your desk so you’d essentially be promoting both mental and physical health with this specific strategy.


By incorporating breaks, you are sure to be more refreshed and more focused on whatever task may be at hand. The strategy listed above may not be ideal for everyone. Part of the challenge is finding a break/work ratio that works for you, your profession and your company’s culture without one totally overpowering the other. It is important to note that without scheduled breaks, your attention is sure to wander which can lead to lower productivity. With scheduled breaks, it’s much easier to be motivated to make the absolute most of your time.


Here are some tips about how to make the most out of your lunch break:


  1. Stop checking social media. This one may be difficult for many, but research has shown that perusing social media channels is hardly restful for our mental capacities. In fact, “digital detoxing”, which includes bringing a physical book to read instead, offers a much more restorative break than staring at a phone screen.
  2. Get away from your desk. You may not realize it, but changing your scenery and location can have a drastic impact on your mental well-being and focus.
  3. Eat without the rush. Actually eat and enjoy your food instead of just eating as quickly as possible.
  4. If you’re an individual who often skips breaks due to work stress, you may be caught in an infinite cycle. Start taking breaks and actually resting on your lunch break to lessen the stress and increase your productivity.


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