We are constantly moving. Have you ever noticed that? After a full day of attending meetings, pitching ideas, and connecting with other people, we still take phone calls at dinner and send e-mails before bed. In between each Skype call we have, we fit in another task, say yes to another assignment. We work hard and we love the work we do. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, isn’t it? We should not want to take a break. After all, the more time and effort you put into something, the more you’ll accomplish, right? Well, as it turns out, that isn’t the case.
According to a study done in 2011 by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, breaks can “dramatically improve one’s ability to focus…for prolonged periods.” This means that by stepping back from your work, you will actually be able to do more. In addition to that, you will be able to do the work better!
Even if you don’t feel tired or overworked, you should take breaks. Standard Life says that stress and fatigue can creep up on us and greatly hinder our “physical resistance and mental capacities.” So, by refusing to take breaks, you are not only hurting your performance, you are hurting your body— and we all know how little work we get done when we get sick.
Unfortunately, knowing we should take a break is only half the battle. We actually have to make an effort to pry ourselves away from our computers and—gasp!—our cell phones. So, what do the most productive breaks look like? Breaks shouldn’t be short and far between like a time-out during a basketball game. Believe it or not, the best breaks take your mind off of work.
In 2012, Laurie Tarkan wrote an article for Fox News called Work Hard, Play Harder: Fun at Work Boosts Creativity, Productivity. In this article, she uncovers some major corporations’ secrets to success. LinkedIn employees are allowed to play ping-pong and foosball on their breaks; Google pays to have people play volleyball, bowl, and rock climb. If these employees are not only allowed but encouraged to partake in these activities, why can’t you?
Another way to take a break is to get comfortable, close your eyes, and take a nap. It is by far my favorite way to take a break as well as my hardest to justify. However, even the Huffington Post knows the importance of naps. An article was posted recently on their site about the different kinds of naps and their benefits. Fifteen minute naps are perfect for improving memory while half an hour naps will help you feel refreshed. If you have an hour and a half to spare, 90 minute naps can provide you with “as much refreshment as a full night of rest.” If that doesn’t tempt you to take a break, I don’t know what will!
So slow down! Breaks are vital for productivity as well as your health. Take time to have some fun every once in a while; don’t be afraid to nap! Your career will benefit and you’ll feel better. Guaranteed.