• Shagun Agarwal

Taking Regular Breaks at Work is the Key to Productivity

Updated: Oct 6, 2019


The most productive people are not the ones who work for hours and hours at a stretch but the ones who are fully present and alert while at work, even if that constitutes for a short period of time. They practice a few rituals that improve their productivity and concentration while at work.

The 2 modes that our brain works on are the focused mode and the diffused mode. Our focused mode works when we are alert, working or getting to know something new. The diffused mode works when we are in a relaxed mood and are not concentrating on anything so strongly. Our focused mode is important but our diffused mode is also equally important in improving our overall productivity level.

Humans are designed to shift to and fro between the two modes in intervals, or in other words, between spending and regaining back energy. They are not designed to work continuously. Our body is designed for movements and continuous breaks.

If a person doesn’t take breaks at all, his mind and body get used to that kind of work style. However, that brings along with many health related issues along with a decrease in productivity. Continuously working on the to-do lists can cause stress and negativity.

Various studies have shown that taking breaks at work at regular intervals can keep the mind and the body focused. Regular breaks also help in reducing fatigue and relieves joint and muscle pain. It also prevents drainage of energy and resources.

Taking a break before our brain signals the need for a break is more effective. When you are concentrated enough in a task, you perform but that does not last forever. When you expand yourself beyond that phase, you start feeling demotivated and unfocused. To get back on the productivity zone, our brain needs a little deviation or interruption.

Dan Sullivan, co-author, ‘The Laws of Lifetime Growth’ says, “It’s not the amount of time you spend working each day. You can create a solution in a shorter period of time if you are rested and rejuvenated."

Research studies have shown that taking off from work on a workday is an important recovery strategy. However what is suggested that you completely disengage at least for a few minutes to experience the greatest boost. It is also suggested that one should detach from work after work hours. This gives way to renewal in energy and a positive mindset the next morning. When you detach, detach completely and relax without thinking about work, only then you can work without thinking about relaxation.

Studies have backed the fact that even a break of 1.5 minutes improves productivity by 6.45%. While 2 minutes of regular breaks improve productivity by 11.15%.

A research study was conducted at the Florida State University by Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues. He studied high performers from different fields and found that the best performers typically practice for 90 minutes, at a stretch. Their research evidenced that during the 90 minute interval, we move from a state of high energy and alertness to fatigue. After this duration, our body starts releasing stress hormones and expects that we take a break.

The whole idea that all the research studies boil down to the fact that the amount of work we do after taking a break compensates for the time we take time off for breaks and interruptions, thus making way for increased productivity overall. This helps manage energy and resources more optimally and gets more done in less time.


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© 2019 by Shagun Agarwal

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