There are moments in our life where we just need to put in the time and get work done. We need our day to be as productive as can be.
The idea of getting work done isn’t really synonymous with resting, although research has shown that resting during your busy days can make the time you actually spend working infinity more productive.
Let’s explore some of the way’s your productivity thrives on rest.
1. You will make better decisions after your break
It is common knowledge in the scientific community that on average, humans can concentrate on a task for a maximum of 90-120 minutes. Sure you can work longer, but your efficiency in doing so will drop drastically.
In reality, you will already see a drop in your productivity around 60 minutes into working, however it is nowhere near as big of a decrease as the 90 minute mark.
One of the best methods to ensure that you are always working with peak performance is to make use of the 50/10 method. It is an extremely effective method that will allow you to study for 12+ hours with ease if utilized correctly. It got me through my engineering degree, so trust me, it works!
Giving your brain that 10 minute break also enhances your ability to retain information. It is especially effective when studying. That is why if you have a test or an important meeting, make sure you are not doing anything work related 30 minutes before.
It gives your brain a much needed break, plus the last minute notes you have just been revising will actually stick in your memory!
2. Progress happens when we rest
Anyone who at some point in their life was into sports or going to they gym, know that progress is made when you rest. The same applies for our mind.
It is important to stress that the break you take needs to let the brain rest. Do not pre-occupy it with other activities like actively scrolling through social media. Put on some nice music, sit back, and just let your thoughts wander.
During these few minutes of peace, our brain is able to incubate and process the information that we have just learned. It is able to structure all that information, and get ready to receive a new load.
Often times when we are stuck with a problem that seems almost impossible to solve, try and take a break. When you let your mind wander by itself, you will be surprised what it can come up with.
I have solved some of the hardest questions in my engineering studies when I was in the middle of a supermarket because I decided to get some fresh air and take a break from my studies. Nothing beats that eureka moment.
3. Breaks can improve our creativity (by walking)
Breaks allows us to take a step back from our otherwise busy lives. They are the reason why shower thoughts are a thing. Taking our mind off of our work and letting it wander can produce some very useful insights.
There has actually been scientific evidence to support that walking, opposed to just sitting, can illicit the greatest creative response. So if you are stuck with a complex problem, you can literally walk away from it. For a bit.
Taking that walk will likely produce some creative insight into the problem. Something I have personally found when I do this, is that while I don’t dwell on the current solution that I’m working on, I will actually start to look at the problem from a different angle.
I’ll admit that I am not the most creative person out there, but if even I notice such a difference, I’m sure you will too!
What are some ways you can incorporate breaks into your busy schedule?
- Make sure you keep your workspace as your workspace. Don’t take a break in the same place that you work. Your brain will recognize your place of work, so make sure it knows when you are taking a break. The most common example if you are working in an office is to try and not eat your lunch at your desk. Simply eating your lunch at another location is a great and easy way to sneak in an extra break.
- Sleeping is the king of resting. You can take as many breaks during the day as you want, if the time you sleep is not adequate enough, you will lose a productive day. Missing just 1 hour of sleep at night can already have a noticeable impact on our performance the next day. Make sure you know how much sleep you need and ensure you get it every night!
- If sleeping is the king, power napping is the queen. There is nothing better to give you a mental boost in the middle of the day than a 20 minute power nap. We have all experienced that afternoon dip right after lunch. It’s a very common occurrence that humans have a sort of energy crash in the afternoons. I personally take a 20 minute nap everyday after I have lunch to combat this. I can say that my productivity in the afternoons is just as good as in the mornings! Thank you power naps!
- Home is home, don’t make it a place of work. The usual advice I would give is to just switch off when you get home, no work allowed! Of course with the whole corona pandemic, a lot of us have to work at home. Try and work in a designated room in your house, and don’t bring it into other areas of your house.