Stop feeling guilty about breaks - Deepstash

Stop feeling guilty about breaks

Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is indispensable to the brain. It is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.

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MORE IDEAS FROM The Science of Breaks at Work: Change Your Thinking About Downtime

Productivity-boosting activities for breaks
  • Take a walk. 
  • Daydream. It leads to creativity.
  • Eat to replenish your brain.
  • Read a (non-work) book.
  • Get a coffee. 
  • Doodle. It can stimulate new ideas and help us stay focused.

  • Listen to music.

  • Nap.

  • Exercise.

  • Talk to friends or co-workers.

  • Go outside and see some nature.

  • Exercise your eyes with the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a break for at least 20 seconds and look at objects that are 20 feet away from you.

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90-minute work blocks

Working in 90-minute intervals for maximizing productivity means working with our bodies’ natural rhythms.

When studies were conducted on elite performers like violinists, athletes, actors and chess players, the results showed that the best performers practised in focused sessions of no more than 90 minutes.

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Breaks keep us from getting bored

The human brain just wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it these days.

The fix for this unfocused condition is simple—all we need is a brief interruption (aka a break) to get back on track.

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The Pomodoro technique

Work in small bursts to help you get rid of distractions and focus more intently.

Just set a timer for 25 minutes, and when it goes off, take a short break for 5 minutes. Stretch your legs, grab a drink, or just sit back and relax. After you’ve done four Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break of 30 minutes or so.

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When you work on a task continuously, it’s easy to lose focus and get lost in the weeds. In contrast, following a brief intermission, picking up where you left off forces you to take a few seconds to think globally about what you’re ultimately trying to achieve. 

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Our brains have two modes:

  • focused mode, which we use when we’re doing things like learning something new, writing or working) and 
  • diffuse mode, which is our more relaxed, daydreamy mode when we’re not thinking so hard.

The mind solves its stickiest problems while daydreaming—something you may have experienced while driving or taking a shower.

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Most productive people work for 52 minutes at a time, then take a break for 17 minutes before getting back to it. 

They make the most of those 52 minutes by working with intense purpose, but then rest up to be ready for the next burst. In other words, they work with purpose.

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Blocking out two planned, 15-minute intermissions in your day—one in the mid-morning and the other in the mid-afternoon. 

Around 3 p.m. is the least productive time of day, so definitely don’t skip that break.

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RELATED IDEA

Forcing Yourself To Wake Up Early

When we force ourselves to wake up early and fail to do so we tend to beat ourselves up over it. However, we must keep in mind that we are wired differently according to Chris Bailey, the author of The Productivity Project.

It doesn't matter what time we wake up as long as we're able to finish the tasks that are supposed to be done with the schedule it won't make a difference whether you wake up at 5 AM or 10 AM as long as you act deliberately within schedule.

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Why You Should Take Breaks
  • “Movement breaks” are essential for your physical and emotional health. A 5-minute walkabout break every hour can improve your health and well-being.
  • Breaks can prevent “decision fatigue. Decision fatigue can lead to simplistic decision-making and procrastination.
  • Breaks restore motivation, especially for long-term goals. "Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused."
  • Breaks increase productivity and creativity. It refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources, and helps you become more creative.
  • “Waking rest” helps consolidate memories and improve learning. During a rest period, it appears that the brain reviews and ingrains what it previously learned.

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Taking breaks is key to better productivity

The harder and longer you work, the less productive overall you'll be. Research confirms that taking breaks before you're mentally exhausted is essential for productivity.

When you take time for a break, get up and stretch, get water, go for a 5- to 10-minute walk outside into some nature. If you don't plan your breaks, you'll end up taking unintentional breaks like surfing the internet because your brain is searching for relief. You'll end up needing a much longer break to recover.

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