In the always-on culture we live in today, we are often encouraged to work non-stop with the expectation that it never fails to produce good results.
Yet intuitively, we know that we need to take time out during the working day; only by recharging we can be anywhere near our best.
And psychologists have found a wealth of evidence to suggest that taking breaks actually improves work performance rather than hindering it.
Breaks boost energy
Short breaks during work have been proven to improve our attention, vital for good performance.
As an example, psychologists have discovered that spending less than 60 seconds looking at nature is the equivalent in positive affect to watching an amusing video for eight minutes; both improve performance when the viewer returns to work.
Shifting your focus helps
A vital component of an effective break is detachment from the tasks in hand, in other words disengaging from thinking about work for a short period of time.
We can reduce our work demands simply by changing our focus to something completely different – the mind get something new to think about, and the mental load is lessened.
And different types of break are proven to help us to avoid work-related thoughts better than others, including practicing mindfulness, meditation and physical activity.
Tedious tasks in particular require time out
Tedious tasks in particular require time out.
Such tasks are demanding on our attentional resources; the average employee’s ability to focus and persist on the job gets more difficult by the minute.
Companies are often ham-fisted about motivating their employees.
But people can play a more active role by knowing what motivates them and practising it on a daily basis, such as always keeping in their mind their eventual goal or through maintaining a daily practice they enjoy.
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