If you’re one of those people who think that working non-stop for eight hours straight is the epitome of dedication, excellence, and quality results, it’s finally time to kiss that misconception goodbye!
Studies are overwhelmingly showing that taking short and frequent breaks during work can make us more efficient, more engaged in what we do, and less likely to make mistakes.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
That said, incorporating breaks into your work can be easier said than done - especially if you’re working in a fast-paced environment that requires constant attention and presence.
This is what we’re here to help you with. In this article, we’ll cover:
- 7 Benefits of Breaks in the Workplace
- 5 Strategies to Integrate Breaks Into Your Work
- 12 Activities that Can Boost Your Productivity
Let’s dive in!
7 Benefits of Breaks in the Workplace
Here are all the ways that taking regular breaks in the workplace can make you a better employee:
- Improved productivity. First and foremost, short breaks from work can help you recharge. In turn, you’ll be more productive, efficient, and focused when you return to work.
- Enhanced creativity. When you take a break, you also allow your mind to wander, which in turn can spark creativity and innovation. Specifically, when you take a break from a task, you often come back to it with a fresh perspective, which can lead to new ideas and solutions.
- Better concentration. When you work for a long time without taking a break, your attention starts to wander and it becomes harder to stay focused on a task. Taking a break, however, can help you stay more focused while working.
- Reduced stress. Taking breaks allows you to step away from work and any stressful situations that come with it and relax, which can, in turn, help you feel more refreshed and less overwhelmed when you start working again.
- Better physical well-being. Breaks also reduce eye strain, headaches, muscle fatigue, back and neck pain, and other physical and mental health issues. Additionally, breaks can prevent burnout and reduce the risk of work-related injuries.
- Optimal work-life balance. Frequent breaks help you achieve a better work-life balance because they allow you some time during the day to also focus on your personal life and responsibilities. This leads to a better sense of well-being and overall higher job satisfaction.
- Positive workplace culture. If you work under a supervisor or employer who encourages you to take breaks from work, you likely work in a positive environment. When employees are given the freedom to take breaks, they feel trusted and empowered, which can in turn lead to a much better workplace culture and increased cooperation among coworkers.
5 Strategies to Integrate Breaks Into Your Work
Saying you’ll take breaks from work is one thing. Actually doing it, though, is completely different.
And who can blame you? After all, it’s so easy to get caught up in your daily routine and in trying to get as much done as possible that you may end up forgetting how important breaks in the workplace are.
To make things easier for you, here are 5 strategies you can start using to integrate breaks into your workday naturally and efficiently:
- Schedule your breaks. Plan out specific times during the day when you believe you need breaks the most and stick to them as much as possible. If you can’t figure out when to take a break, try out the 90-minute solution, which means working for 90-minute intervals and then taking 20-minute breaks.
- Work in short bursts. Also known as the Pomodoro Technique, this strategy involves working for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break.
- Try out the 52-17 method. A third option on how to split your time is the 52/17 rule, which foresees 52 minutes of work followed by a 17-minute break.
- Socialize. A great way to take a break from work is to socialize with your coworkers. Take your break at the same time with them and chat about topics that are unrelated to work.
- Switch tasks. Sometimes, taking a break from a difficult task and switching to a different, easier one can help you return to the original task with renewed energy and focus.
12 Activities that Can Boost Your Productivity
So, now you know all about how important it is to take breaks in the workplace and how you can integrate them into your schedule.
If you want to also reap the full benefits of your break, though, you can do any of the following productivity-boosting activities while you’re out of the workplace:
#1. Listen to music
Listening to music that you enjoy during a break comes with a number of health benefits, such as that it can help you relax, reduce stress, and boost your mood.
Music can also help improve your focus, motivation, and memory.
#2. Take a walk
Going for a short walk can help you clear your head, get some fresh air and sunshine, as well as increase your physical activity, all of which can help you feel more alert and productive when you return to work.
More specifically, taking a walk can increase your energy levels, improve your mood and cognition, strengthen your immune system, and reduce your stress and tension.
#3. Stretch or exercise
If your work allows you to get a bit sweaty during your break, then consider stretching or exercising to make the most out of your break.
Stretching or engaging in light exercise can help improve blood flow and oxygenation, which can lead to increased mental clarity and focus.
If you want to achieve mental clarity and mindfulness, try meditating during your break.
Some of the most noteworthy benefits of meditating include:
- Increased attentiveness and reduced external and internal distractions
- Improved problem-solving abilities
- Reduced levels of depression and anxiety
Joseph Addison once said: “Reading is to the mind what exercising is to the body.”
And he couldn’t be more right, as research also proves that reading:
- Strengthens connections in your brain
- Prevents age-related cognitive decline
- Reduces stress levels
- Improves memory and concentration
Not to mention, a good book can help improve your imagination and creativity, as well as make you more empathetic and understanding toward others.
Taking a short nap during your break can help you recharge your energy levels and improve your cognitive function.
Just make sure to set an alarm so that you don't oversleep, keeping in mind that the best nap length for adults is about 20 minutes and longer than 30 minutes.
Doodling means to scribe absent-mindedly, so you don’t need mad drawing skills to unwind with this activity!
Nonetheless, research shows that doodling can help people stay focused, grasp new concepts more easily, and retain information. Additionally, doodling on a blank page can double as a creative field where the brain can improve its creativity.
#8. Talk to friends or family
Spending your break talking to someone you care about can be extremely rewarding emotionally and spiritually.
Not only can you catch up with friends and family, but you can also talk about your day, your triggers and your successes, and your overall emotional and mental state. This, in turn, can make you feel more at ease and relieved when you go back to work.
At the same time, being present and listening to the other person, can help you put things into perspective, get your mind off work, and give you some momentary purpose, which can be great for your morale and mood.
#9. Plan something
Taking a break to plan your work for the rest of the day or week can help you prioritize your tasks as well as stay focused and on top of your game. Planning your work in advance can also help you anticipate potential obstacles and take steps to overcome them.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to spend time thinking about your tasks and responsibilities during your break, you can plan something fun outside of work, such as a weekend trip or a vacation.
It’s no secret that, sometimes, having a future even to look forward to makes us happier than the thing itself.
#10. Exercise your eyes
This is especially helpful if your work involves looking at a computer screen all day long.
To properly exercise your eyes and reduce screen-caused eye strain, take advantage of the 20-20-20 rule. This rule suggests that every 20 minutes, you should take a break that’s at least 20 seconds long to look at things that are 20 feet (or 6 meters), away from you.
#11. Eat something healthy
Eating food that is linked to increased brainpower can help boost your productivity at work in the long term. Some of these foods include:
- Fatty fish
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Tea and coffee
#12. Go out in nature
Our busy lifestyles and urban backdrop make it easy sometimes to forget how relaxing and refreshing nature can be.
Specifically, spending time in nature has been shown to:
- Improve your mood and decrease feelings of anger
- Boost your confidence and self-esteem
- Help you meet new people and reduce loneliness
- Make you feel more relaxed
As such, don’t let warm and sunny days go to waste if you can use them to spend some fulfilling time in nature.
To conclude - taking breaks is not a sign of laziness or weakness, but a necessary part of being a productive and healthy employee.
Taking short and frequent breaks in the workplace can reduce your stress, increase your focus and productivity, and improve your physical health, so it’s super important that you take steps to integrate them into your daily life, as much as possible.