Taking breaks at work is not a waste of time – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Regular, short breaks are essential in maintaining a happy, productive team. Read on to discover why
taking breaks at work is important and what the ramifications are if you don’t.
Time to take five?
The Science Behind Taking Breaks and Productivity
Our brains aren’t designed to focus on one task for extended periods without a break. Research has shown that taking brief, frequent breaks throughout the workday can improve productivity and well-being.
Why? Because when we work, our brains use a lot of energy, and taking breaks can help replenish this energy by allowing us to recharge. The result? Reduced stress, boosted concentration and increased creativity. Nearly 90% of North American employees say that taking a break helps them feel refreshed and ready to get back to work.
The Benefits of Taking Breaks
The benefits to taking breaks at work are plentiful. Here are a few:
Taking breaks can help to improve concentration, enhance creativity and boost problem-solving skills – all of which can ultimately lead to increased productivity.
It may sound counterintuitive but taking a break from work will actually mean you get more – not less – done. A break can ‘reset’ your body and your brain so that when you return to the task
at hand, you’re firing on all cylinders.
Regular breaks can help to reduce stress and prevent burnout. This, in turn, can help employees feel more motivated and engaged in their work.
As well as mental health being improved by breaks, physical health is too. Depending on your job, discomfort from prolonged sitting, eye strain from staring at a screen, aches from heavy lifting, and other occupational hazards can be avoided with breaks.
Enhanced social connections
Breaks provide an opportunity to interact with colleagues, build relationships, and increase social connections, which will lead to a more positive work environment.
Increased job satisfaction
Employees who take breaks tend to report higher job satisfaction levels because they are less likely to feel overwhelmed, exhausted or unmotivated.
The Consequences of Not Taking Breaks
Not taking breaks at work can have negative consequences on both physical and mental health, as well as work performance. Here are some potential consequences of working, working, working without a break:
Working without taking breaks can lead to decreased productivity because the brain can become fatigued, leading to reduced concentration and creativity.
The increase in stress caused by not taking breaks can lead to burnout – a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion. Not fun.
Not taking breaks to stretch or move can lead to health problems such as back pain, eye strain, and conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injury (RSI).
Employees who don’t take breaks may feel overworked, stressed, and less satisfied with their job. This, in turn, can lead to reduced motivation and engagement in their work.
Make Sure You Take Enough Breaks
Follow these tips to ensure you are taking enough breaks throughout your working day – and making the most of them…
Make it a priority to schedule breaks into your workday. Set reminders on your calendar, phone or time tracking app to help you remember to step away from your work.
Use your breaks wisely
Do something that will help you recharge and feel refreshed, such as taking a short walk outside, stretching, practicing meditation or deep breathing, or simply taking a few minutes to chat with a colleague.
Have a lunch break
Taking a lunch break away from your workstation can help you refocus for the afternoon. Try to eat a healthy, filling meal.
Communicate with your supervisor
If you are struggling to take breaks during the workday, chat to your boss. Explain why you need breaks and work together to find a solution that everyone is happy with.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that involves working for a set amount of time (usually 25 minutes) and then taking a short break (usually five minutes).
Taking breaks at work is essential in maintaining productivity, creativity and motivation.
The benefits are far-reaching, and include:
- Increased focus
- Greater efficiency
- Reduced stress
- Improved mental and physical health
- Enhanced social connections
- Increased job satisfaction
Not taking breaks at work can have negative consequences, such as:
- Decreased productivity
- Health problems
Follow these tips to ensure you take enough breaks throughout your working day:
- Schedule breaks and set reminders.
- Use your breaks wisely – perhaps stretch, go for a walk or chat to a colleague.
- Have a lunch break.
- Communicate with your supervisor.
- Use the Pomodoro Technique (a time management method that involves working for a set amount of time and then taking a short break).