Nearly 90% of North American employees feel that taking work breaks helps them feel refreshed and ready to go back to work, yet 38% of employees do not feel encouraged to do so. Some workers may feel too busy to step away from their desks, while others are worried their coworkers and bosses will judge them. However, research found that the top 10% of productive workers all worked an average of 52 minutes before taking 15 to 17 minutes to relax and reset. Work breaks are scientifically proven to improve the productivity of workers who take them, which subsequently promotes the success of a company.
FIND YOUR OWN RHYTHM (WITH SCIENCE IN MIND!)
Workers are the most productive when taking a 17-minute break after 52 minutes of work for three reasons. First, they are 100% dedicated to the task at hand because they know a break is coming – no checking social media or sending texts. Second, they do not work to the point of cognitive boredom. Humans cannot focus on tasks for hours, and 52 minutes seems to be the sweet spot for maintaining focus. Third, regular breaks allow for more physical activities, such as walking and stretching, which improve the workers’ blood-flow, body function, and ability to refocus.
You might be thinking – 17 minutes seems like a long break every hour. However, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus after a distraction. The most productive workers maximize their focus by allowing themselves scheduled breaks, as opposed to letting themselves become distracted at random intervals.
There is no need to worry if you cannot squeeze in a 17-minute break every 52 minutes. That routine might not work for everyone, but you can understand the elements of what makes this break-schedule effective and create your own. In other words, find your own rhythm! Just be aware that working for periods longer than an hour may lead your mind to become distracted more easily; however, scheduling breaks at any point of the day is much more beneficial than forgoing them altogether!
MOVE THE BODY
The mind is not the only thing that loses steam after one hour – the body does, too. According to The New York Times, sedentary workers who walked for five minutes every hour experienced improved mood, energy, and focus. More interestingly, five-minute walks were discovered to be more beneficial than a 30-minute walk once a day. Workers who rose more often felt happier, less fatigued, and even had fewer cravings for food later in the day. Luckily, each WaveOffice is uniquely located in urban environments with high walking scores, giving you tons of places to wander during your break. Do not fret if a rainy day is keeping you inside; replace your walk with an exercise to do at your desk for the same benefits!
CHANGE YOUR SCENERY
To maximize your work break, it is crucial to leave one item behind: work. That might sound obvious, but just like 100% of your work time should be focused on work, 100% of your break time should be focused on anything but work. It is a break from work, after all!
A great way to do this is by stepping away from your desk, or even your office altogether, to separate yourself from your work environment. Leave your work phone and laptop at your desk to disconnect even further. To create the necessary space between your work environment and your break environment, stroll to the rooftop for some fresh air and relax with some music, or walk to WaveOffice’s complimentary Starbuck’s coffee machine for a fresh cup of joe. These brief divisions vastly improve focus, as research shows that constant stimulation to the brain decreases the brain’s ability to be aware of the stimulus. In other words, your mind is less likely to process a project the more time it spends thinking about it.
REST YOUR EYES
According to The Vision Council, 80% of Americans use digital devices for more than two hours a day, and 59% report experiencing digital eye strain. Office workers are especially vulnerable to eye strain as most of their work is completed on computers or cellphones. Thus, it is essential to rest the eyes during work breaks. This does not mean you cannot check your texts or use social media during your break, but it is important to relax the eyes to avoid strain. A great way to do this is through the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen time, stare at a non-screen item that is at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This exercise will allow the eyes to rehydrate and relax, preventing eye fatigue, which could hinder your ability to focus later throughout the day.
Remember, just because you work longer does not mean you are getting the most work done. Work breaks are crucial to workday productivity by ensuring your focus is adequately maintained throughout the day. At WaveOffice, we help you work smarter, not harder, by providing you with the best spaces to reset and refocus your mind and body. No matter what a work break means to you, spending a few minutes every hour to relax will help you cross off that to-do list a little more quickly.