In today's fast-paced work culture, it's easy to get caught up in a never-ending cycle of work without taking any breaks. Whether you're working from home or in the office, the temptation to keep pushing through your to-do list or the next marathon series of meetings can be overwhelming. In light of that, this article will help walk through the basics of why and how you can take breaks through your workday to maximize not only your well being but also your productivity.
4 Reasons to Take Breaks at Work
Taking regular breaks throughout your workday is essential for your productivity, health, and well-being. Here are four reasons to consider putting a pause on that to-do list.
One of the most significant benefits of taking breaks is that they can help increase your productivity. This may sound counterintuitive, but a well timed break can give your brain a chance to rest and recharge. This allows you to return to your work with a fresh perspective and renewed energy, making you more productive in the long run.Our brains have a limited capacity to focus for extended periods of time, so enjoying a break can help you refocus and avoid burnout.
Taking a break can give your brain a chance to wander and relax, which can stimulate creativity and new ideas. This point was stressed repeatedly in the most popular MOOC (massive online open course) “Learning how to Learn” and continues to be a proven tactic for the artists and artisans of the world seeking to find their creative edge. Alternating between streams of heavy input and work with periods of rest and reflection can help anyone from painters to product managers find renewed inspiration for their next challenge.
Taking breaks can also help reduce stress levels. Over time, the constant pinging of the latest Slack message or email can trigger higher and sustained levels of stress hormones like cortisol in your bloodstream. When you're working on a task for a long time, it's easy to become tense and anxious. However, taking a break can help you relax and reduce your stress levels. This, in turn, can help you avoid burnout and maintain your mental health.
Improved Physical Health
Sitting for extended periods can be detrimental to your physical health. Breaks can also be healthy for strained eyes that are staring at computer screens all day long as well as stiff muscles that may be locked into unhealthy positions. Taking breaks throughout your workday can help you combat these everyday pitfalls. When you take a break, you give yourself a chance to stretch, move around, and get some exercise. This can help improve your physical health and prevent issues like back pain and eye strain.
6 Tips for Taking Breaks at Work
Now that we've discussed the benefits of taking breaks let's look at some tips on how to schedule them effectively:
Plan Your Day or Week
Breaks don’t just happen. They’re the product of a deliberate choice to prioritize long-term health and productivity over short-term gains. As someone who’s aspiring to be thoughtful about the way you live and work, consider taking a few minutes at the beginning of each week and day to plan out your schedule. This process can help you identify times when you can take breaks and ensure that you're not overloading your schedule.
Take Short Frequent Breaks
Instead of taking one long break, consider taking short, frequent breaks throughout the day. This will help you maintain your energy levels and prevent fatigue. Too many longer break may also get you out of rhythm or flow which can hinder productivity. Experts recommend taking a 5-10 minute break every hour or two.
Use your calendar or task list to set reminders for when it's time to take a break. This will help ensure that you don't forget to take a break when you need it most. Apart from some kind of deliberate reminder, it’s likely that the next pressing task or meeting will come to supercede your well intentions.
Avoid checking your work email or chat or doing work-related tasks during your break. This intentional disconnection from your work life can help you recharge your mental batteries and come back to work with fresh eyes and more energy.
Do Something Different
Consider using your break time to do something different. Take a walk, do a few stretches, check on your favorite sports team, or chat with a colleague. Doing something different can remind you that you’re not just a worker but a whole person with a distinct personality and interests.
Get Help from Xembly
We’d be remiss to end this article without referencing how Xembly can support you in your quest for a healthier workday. Xembly users can simply Slack their personal AI chief of staff to block off time on their calendar for an appropriate break. Xembly may also suggest individual or routine break times proactively to help you protect your time and energy.All that to say, taking breaks is an essential part of maintaining your productivity, health, and well-being. By scheduling breaks into your workday, you'll be able to work more efficiently, reduce your stress levels, and maintain your physical health. So, take a break, and enjoy the benefits it brings!