Do you take an honest-to-goodness lunch break when you are at work? If you do, include yourself among the rare. Studies reveal that only one out of five workers take a “real” lunch recess–the kind that includes actually leaving your office desk and thinking about something other than the office work for a few minutes.
With the pressure to be consistently productive, taking some time away from your office work looks counterintuitive. But breaks really make you more productive in the long term: they revive you, they re-energize you, and they invigorate new ideas. They also boost morale in an office, and smiling workers implies better work.
Breaks are a useful thing, but how can you ensure that you get the most of them? To put it simply, how can you think up of your breaks so that they make you more prolific?
- Get outside.
Or, at the least, give yourself a switch of the landscape. Professor Kimberly Elsbach, who studies corporate psychology at the University of California has discovered that people are more productive when they alter their environments. As she said to NPR, ” staying inside, in the same location, is really detrimental to creative thinking. It’s also detrimental to doing that rumination that’s needed for ideas to percolate and gestate and allow a person to arrive at an ‘aha’ moment.”
Getting outside and enduring a natural environment; even for a few minutes, is very therapeutic. Her study reveals that even something as easy as a walk around a block can make you more productive.
So do not waste your breaks at your office desk! If you need to recharge, get outside and breathe in a different environment.
- Take short breaks, even if you don’t believe you need one.
By now, maximum people are conscious that working at an office desk is hard for your body. So taking breaks is not just necessary for your creativity, it is good for your physical health. And having workers who are ill or are unable to do their tasks for health reasons is a significant drain on corporation productivity. Supporting people to take breaks is just good business.
The Center for Disease Control suggests taking short breaks, even just a couple of minutes long, once every other hour. Something as easy as standing up; drawing, or even changing to a new sitting position can make a tremendous difference.
- Take a break early in the day.
Drs. Emily Hunter & Cindy Wu of Baylor University researched the break habits of close to one thousand employees. They discovered that taking a break in the morning, before lunch, was more efficient at refilling energy, focus, and motivation. Employees who took breaks early in the day were more creative later in the day.
- Do something fun.
Another perspective of Hunter and Wu’s findings? Breaks were more useful if people utilized them to do something that they really enjoy. Hunter says that:
“Finding something on your break that you prefer to do–something that’s not given to you or assigned to you–are the kinds of activities that are going to make your breaks much more restful, provide better recovery, and help you come back to work stronger.”
So think of bringing a famous novel, a productive project, or something else that makes you feel great to do during your break, and you will be more prolific later.