Are you looking for a way to boost your productivity at work? Perhaps you should try taking microbreaks.
What are microbreaks?
According to Bryan Lufkin in his BBC Worklife 101 article “Microbreaks,” to “reboot” your brain, it’s helpful to take small breaks of 90 seconds to two minutes every 20 to 40 minutes. One study showed that surgeons who used microbreaks to stretch performed better in surgery and suffered less joint pain. Another study found that microbreaks boosted the focus of assembly line workers.
What should you do during a microbreak?
However, before you decide to check your Instagram account or text your BFF every half hour or so, it’s important to know that not all microbreaks are created equal. The Harvard Business Review article titled “Boost Your Productivity with Microbreaks” quotes assistant professor Charlotte Fritz, whose research shows that taking work-related microbreaks keeps people more energized than breaks that aren’t associated with professional activities.
In other words, distracting your mind completely from the task at hand isn’t helpful. What you need to do is find a way to take a break without disengaging from work. For example, you could stretch for a few minutes while mulling over a challenge you’re working on. Or you could pause one task—such as writing a report—to take a look at the rest of your responsibilities for the day. You could even walk over to a colleague and ask his or her advice on something. The main thing is to stop focusing intently on your task and give your eyes and brain some relief without completely redirecting your attention. Then when you return to the task at hand, your brain should be re-energized and you should feel more productive.
What about longer breaks?
Of course, you still need longer breaks, too — and during those breaks, it’s best if you can disengage from work for a while. For example, you can do a 10-minute coffee run halfway through the morning or go for a brisk 30-minute walk during your lunch break.
If you’re someone who tends to lose track of time when you’re working, it can be helpful to set reminders on your computer or phone. There are also apps available to help you remember, such as Micro Breaks, a Chrome extension you can easily install in your browser.
Leveraging microbreaks can help you improve your focus, so give it a try — and you’ll soon see how they can help boost your productivity.