Taking good breaks - Deepstash

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Research Reveals How to Take a Better Break

Taking good breaks

This is important for your daily productivity. Good breaks can leave us feeling refreshed and energized. It can reduce mental fatigue, boost brain function and keep us on-task for extended periods.

The wrong sort of breaks might make us more vulnerable to boredom and make us want to take breaks more often. It can leave us depleted and drained. 

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We Need Breaks
recent Apple ad celebrated entrepreneurs working so hard, they’re not able to see their children.

This style of working is unsustainable. We physically can’t work at 100% capacity, 100% of the time. We need breaks. 

Take A Break Every 52 Minutes

After analyzing 5.5 million daily records of how office workers are using their computer (based on what the user self-identified as “productive” work), they found that the top 10% of productive workers all worked an average of 52 minutes before taking a 17 minute break.

Distract Yourself To Recharge Your Focus

Intense focus actually makes us less focused in the long run. Instead of thinking about the problem without stop, we need to create distractions that take our attention away from the task at hand so we can come back at it with a fresh mind.

Attention = Focusing + Ignoring

Paying attention involves two separate distinct brain functions: 

  1. “enhancement” - our ability to focus on things that matter) 
  2. “suppression” - our ability to ignore the things that don’t. 
Suppressing distraction gets harder with age

Our ability to filter out distractions, not our concentration, diminishes with age. 

As we grow older we get more and more distracted. 

Less visual clutter to eliminate distractions

When your eyes are closed, your brain isn’t working as hard to filter out visual information. So: 

  • Use one screen, one browser window, and one computer program at a time.
  • Keep your physical and virtual desktop tidy.
Altering the brain
Altering the brain

In 2005, studies began to point out that meditation can change the structure of your brain by thickening the cortex. The cortex controls your attention and emotions.

You can reap the benefits if you practice meditation for half an hour a day over eight weeks.

Mindfulness meditation

It typically refers to a practice for training your attention. It is an awareness that comes through paying attention in the moment, but non-judgmentally.

It involves sitting down with closed eyes and focussing on feeling your breath go in and out. When your attention starts to wander, you take note and bring your attention back to your breath.

Reduced amygdala activity

Meditation shows reduced activity in the amygdala, our brain’s threat detector. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it sets off the fight-flight-freeze response.

In a study, after practicing mindfulness for 20 minutes per day over just one week, participants showed reduced amygdala reactivity only while they were engaged in mindfulness, suggesting they need regular practice.