Break Up to Make Up
As one of the HR gals at Prosek, part of my job is to help establish an environment where everyone is productive. People often say they are too busy to take breaks, but I'm here to tell you that YOU'RE NOT! In addition to abiding by legal mandates (like one issued by the New York State Labor Department), it is to everyone's benefit if they take breaks throughout the workday. Mainly, breaking up the work day allows people to "make up" valuable time because they are ultimately more efficient, focused and energized allowing tasks to be completed in a shorter period.
- Thinking too hard is physically draining Fun fact: the brain uses a ton of energy (mostly in the form of glucose and oxygen) - so you're burning energy when you maintain unbroken focus or are involved in intellectual endeavors for several hours. Long stints of intense concentration will physically make you feel like you just left the gym (assuming you do more than drink smoothies and take selfies in the mirror while you're there).
- Your body is in DANGER Okay, maybe not...but not taking a break can cause some pretty annoying aches and pains. Sitting for longer than 30 minutes can put stress on your spine, which can result in some muscle atrophy. Staring at a screen for a long period of time can also be harmful to your eyes and be the cause of frequent headaches. You're also in the market for neck pain and carpel tunnel syndrome. Not fun.
- You'll be more productive Yes, it's hard to imagine that interrupting time at your desk will actually help you to accomplish more, but it will! As I just mentioned - long hours of concentration uses a lot of energy. By taking a break, you will be able to renew your energy and become more efficient (no...just pounding down more caffeine and sugar to keep going does not count!).
How to Break
- Schedule Work in 90 minute spurts (there's some science behind that) and take 5 minute respites in-between. There are even some pretty cool programs, such as Scirocco Take a Break, that will block you from computer usage for a specified amount of time forcing you to take a step away and take time to refocus.
- Move Step away from the screen (Twitter, Facebook, and Tinder) and take a walk. Social media breaks are a good distraction, but they will not re-energize you. Instead, walk around the block or make it a social break and get some human contact - check in with a co-worker, go get some coffee, or head to the kitchen area for a healthy snack. Walking has been shown to relieve stress, reduce fatigue and boost mood.
- Vacate Use your vacation days - we give them to you for a reason! Disconnecting briefly from the work environment can help revitalize you and relieve stress. It also gives you something to look forward to, ultimately putting you in a better mood at work.
And some final words . . .
Don't get carried away. Obviously, everything in moderation is best. Too many breaks can be a distraction, your company does actually need you to complete your work. The case for most is that they do not take enough breaks, especially breaks that involve movement. In the name of productivity and progression - STOP! Take a break, recharge, and keep up the great work!
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