We’ve all been there: glassy-eyed and slumped over a MacBook, spine curved into a painful C-shape, desperately wondering how we’ll make it through the workday without turning into the Hunchback of Notre Dame by 5 p.m. If you’re slogging through Hour 7 of your day without a proper break, it’s time to stop, stretch, and look away from your laptop -- especially if you want to be more productive.
Reframe Your Ideas About the Work Day
Think you don’t have time to take a break? Here’s the thing: You don’t have time not to take a break. This is because breaks help us to be more productive, not less. Refreshing and resetting your brain is an integral part of your work performance, not a deviation or distraction from the task at hand. In fact, recent studies have shown that those who give into distraction once every hour actually perform better than those who don’t.
Start thinking about breaks as a necessary addition to the rhythm and flow of your day -- work should be a series of sprints rather than a marathon if you want to be efficient with your time and get the most done.
Learn What Constitutes a Good Break
A good break doesn’t involve obsessively scrolling through your News Feed, FaceTiming your boyfriend or screenshotting people’s Instagram stories. Repeat after us: Step away from your Apple CrackPipe. Instead, go outside and stretch, do a couple yoga poses, pet your dog, walk around the block, or chat with a coworker. No matter what you do during your break time, try to get away from your computer and other tech devices.
In addition, morning breaks should look different than afternoon or evening breaks. As the day goes on, we all get a little zombie-eyed, often to the point that even a third mug of coffee isn’t enough to bring us back to life. So, in the morning, spend your break time doing something mindful like meditating for a couple minutes or writing down your goals for the week. Then, since your body energy goes down the longer you work, save the physical stuff (taking a walk, doing a Downward Dog) for later in the day when you’ll need it more. A short catnap in the afternoon works wonders, too, if you can get away with it.
Put What You Learned Into Practice
So, how often should you take a mini-timeout from work? That depends on your workload and energy level, of course: Everyone’s different. Robert Pozen, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the author of Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours recommends taking a break at least every 75 to 90 minutes, as this is the chunk of time in which you can concentrate fully and get the most work done (hence why this is also the amount of time of most college classes).
However you decide to start incorporating regular breaks into your routine, rest assured that you’re not slacking off by doing so -- in fact, you’ll likely be shocked at how much more productive you’ll be.
At Impact Hub, we believe community is key: that’s why we love doing 15-minute stretch breaks together with our in-house wellness expert, Lydia, or taking a yoga class with our fabulous yogi, Julia.
Article Written by Justine Harrington. Justine Harrington is a freelance writer, travel journalist, and ghostwriter for lifestyle and business brands based in Austin, Texas by way of Oklahoma.