What do you do when you have been staring at the computer screen for hours and can’t seem to make any progress? Do you push forward thinking you need to work harder, or do you step away and take a break? Even though you may feel guilty, taking a break is the correct answer. You may be surprised to learn that taking strategic mental breaks can increase focus and productivity.
A 2011 study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that “the brain detects and responds to change” and “prolonged attention to a single task hinders performance.” The human brain is not designed to operate at full speed all day. It needs time to rest and recharge. That’s why taking periodic breaks throughout the day is essential. Even a brief break will significantly improve your focus on a task. You can increase your productivity even more by ensuring that you are taking strategic and intentional breaks. Remember the following three key tips for taking a ‘good’ mental break.
Three Key Tips
- Schedule your Breaks: If you don’t plan a break, it may not happen. Enter break times on your calendar or phone, or set the alarm to have automatic daily reminders. Please don’t feel guilty or talk yourself out of it. Remember that taking breaks will help you work more efficiently and save you time in the long run.
- Avoid Break Traps: You need to disconnect from work during your break for maximum effectiveness. Don’t spend time checking your email, searching the web, or even talking about work – all common break traps. Put down your phone and leave your computer to give yourself a proper break. Don’t forget to grab a healthy lunch or snack to fuel your brain.
- Move Around: Getting moving is the easiest way to ensure you are taking a good break. Even a short walk around the office will help get the blood flowing to your brain and improve your mental focus. A study from the University of Sao Paulo found that just 10 minutes of exercise increases memory and attention performance throughout the day.
When you feel stuck or unable to move forward, try taking a break to help improve your focus. Or even better, plan strategic breaks throughout your day for maximum productivity.
This AthLife Fundamental was powered by 3 Surprising Secrets to Maintaining your Focus.