How to take better breaks

A lot of professionals think that being chained to their desk all day long is a translation for being more productive. The longer you are glued to the chair, more work you are generating. However, that’s nothing but a fallacy. Let’s be honest and ask ourselves. Is it humanly possible to maintain the same level of concentration and productivity throughout the nine hours we spend at office? Most of the time we are just staring at the screen and only pretending to work.

So, it’s time to drop the notion that not taking breaks means more productivity. Because it’s actually counterproductive.

To further support that ton of research has been conducted on how taking breaks actually increases the output. The human brain can only concentrate at anything for so long. After that it craves rest. It’s not a luxury, but a necessity. Unfortunately not most of us know the art of taking breaks, and feel guilty when we do take one.

Want to do better time-management and free-up more time for breaks? Sign for a free 30-day trial of ProofHub and take it out for a spin!

This blog is an attempt at debunking some of the myths associated with giving our minds a rest during work hours and what’s the right way to do it. Take a look

Time to reframe the way we look at breaks

Most of us think of taking a break as a waste of time. Or, the time when we are being just idle. But, what we fail to realize is that it’s during that idleness when our mind wanders through the garden of ideas. That’s the time when we can come-up with some really amazing and creative ways to do our work.

The fact that we let our brains rest does not mean that our brains’ activities have gone dormant. In fact, researches have shown it’s during this time when brain activities actually improve.

According to Kimberly Elsbach, a management professor at UC-Davis — never taking a break from very careful thought work actually reduces your ability to be creative.

That probably explains why some of the best ideas come to our head while taking a shower, or just before going to bed. The biggest ideas that we label as the breakthroughsare a result diffused mode thinking. It’s safe to say that idleness and innovation go hand in hand. So if you plan on introducing innovative ideas in your work life, you might want to start taking breaks.

It’s time to change the way we look at breaks and not think of it as a luxury or indulgence.

The science behind taking breaks

A break is basically a brief interruption that allows us to resume our work with improved focus.

University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras says that, “Deactivating and reactivating of goals allows you to stay focussed.”

But, before we go ahead and put a pause to our work, we must understand why do we even need a break to begin with? Well, there’s a reason for that and this will explain it all -

Remember those certain moments when you are totally in the zone. The ideas are flowing, you are feeling great. You are fully concentrated and productivity level is through the roof. But, you also know it does not last for very long. After a moment you are bound to feel interrupted or zoned out or just not as focussed as you probably were few seconds ago.

That’s because evolution has hardwired human brain in a way, which forces it to observe the changes going around in order to survive better. That explains why staying focused at one thing consistently for hours does not look like something we are going to master any time soon.

What constitutes an ideal break?

We are talking about giving our mind some rest. And, when it comes to questions related with human mind, there’s no one straightforward answer. And so, everyone will have to find a way of their own to take an ideal break. But still, here are a few suggestions to take better breaks that you might want to try -

  1. Daydream — Daydreaming improves creativity. It let’s you go beyond the obvious and think of the unthinkable. Just close your eyes and let your mind go anywhere that it wants to go.
  2. Draw — Drawing tends to have therapeutic effects on the mind. It does not matter whether you are great at it or whether you suck at it. The goal is to get involved in something that requires little to no thinking so that the brain could better process the information you have fed so far and figure out excellent ways to use it.
  3. Take a stroll — Strolling is a good way to increase the blood flow towards the brain. It boosts the functioning of the brain. Even a 20-minute stroll can improve your cognitive functioning and performance. This is what Urbana-Champaign researchers at the University of Illinois found out.
  4. Read something engrossing — Pick up a novel and get started. Do select something that will keep you engaged. Something that will make you forget everything else around you. You must have noticed that while reading an interesting novel, we feel connected to some entirely different world. The one far away from reality. A good read is another great way to make the best of your break time.

Those were a few ways to take a healthy break.

However, you don’t need to limit yourself to these options only. Be creative. Come up with your very own way of spending that free time. It could be anything; be it meditation, gaming, or something else. Basically anything that will relax you. Do something healthy that you can think of during free time.

And believe me, it will go a long way in improving your quality of work life.


Originally published at www.linkedin.com.