Working for too long without a break is bad for your brain. Maybe you’ve been trying this argument on your boss for years, but now you can back it up with some fact-based research. A 2008 University of Illinois study showed that the brain’s attention resources drop after extended periods spent focusing on a single task, thus hindering overall performance. During these long work spans, the brain exhausts its supply of oxygen and glucose, which are primary energy sources.
Not surprisingly, research also proves that short breaks during the workday boost your concentration, physical fitness level, and mood. More and more employers are realizing that frequent “micro breaks” are beneficial in keeping employees motivated, satisfied and productive.
How can you make sure you get the breaks you need – and make the most of them when you do?
Schedule Your Breaks
When you plan your daily schedule, slot in pre-set times for breaks. For instance, you may want to take a two minute break every hour or a five-minute respite every 90 minutes. If you have back issues or a repetitive stress injury, you’ll want to change up your routine every half hour or so to avoid muscle atrophy or unnecessary stress on your spine.
- Set a timer. Working on a computer or other equipment can distort your perception of time. Use your cell phone, email calendar feature or old-fashioned kitchen timer to audibly remind you when it’s break time.
- Software such as Enuff PC or Scirocco Take a Break is available. You can download these programs and they’ll actually block you out of your computer at pre-set break times.
Leave Your Work Area
Don’t sit at your desk and check email, text or update social media sites during your break period. This is not effective in rebooting the brain. Save personal online time for non-working hours. Instead, physically leave your work area and walk around to stimulate circulation. This will enhance your comfort level throughout the day.
- Build your cardiovascular fitness. A short walk helps your heart as well as your productivity. One study showed that, over a 28-year period, workers who skipped breaks were more stressed and had higher rates of heart disease – as one health risk contributed to another.
Plan Breaks to Suit Your Personality
Gauge your break activities to what is best for you, whether it involves social interaction with coworkers or time spent alone. Either way, make the most of it.
- Strong workplace ties can boost performance. If you’re extroverted, schedule breaks with others. This also will encourage you to be on time and not skip breaks.
- If you’re introverted, find a quiet place where you can be by yourself. Read, do a puzzle, or listen to your favorite music. Meditate or take a short power nap. The first two activities encourage concentration and distraction from work-related pressures. The second releases endorphins into your body. Meditation is a surefire stress reliever. And who can dispute the value of a nap, as long as you can find a private place – and be sure to set that alarm!
The career development experts at PrideStaff Fresno have a wealth of ideas and resources for finding your ideal job, enhancing your workday, and realizing your ideal career plans and strategy. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.
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