How you can boost your productivity at work

Take more breaks and have a more productive day; it's a win win scenario!

07/02/2018

You read the title right; yes, studies have revealed that taking regular breaks at work can actually improve your productivity. If you keep staring at the same task over and over again and aren’t getting anywhere with it, maybe you need to take a step back and have a little break. How can you do this?

Working in hourly sprints
Work and rest, the same way you would if you were doing physical activity. Consider your working day to be like circuit training, after each intense activity you need to reward your brain with an appropriate break, so that it can be ready for the next workout (or hourly session of work).

Studies collectively have concluded that working for no more than an hour at one time can help to increase your productivity. After about an hour, those who are most productive throughout the day take a break of between 5 to 15 minutes.

Working for short periods of time followed by rewarding yourself with a break, will ensure you get more work completed in an hour, compared to if you were to consistently work for hours, because you are providing your working pattern with purpose and deadlines. Taking much needed breaks after your intense hour of work helps to rest and replenish your energy and brain, so you are ready for the next hour.

In a study which focused on elite performers, such as athletes, musicians and actors, the results found that they typically practice in uninterrupted sessions of up to 90 minutes and then take appropriate breaks. This helps to encourage higher performance during their activities. This performance isn’t linked to working for longer, but rather working in a smarter and more effective way.

Effective types of breaks

Doing any activity that uses a different part of your brain, or an activity that doesn’t heavily rely on your prefrontal cortex, can be an effective break and boost your productivity upon your return. Why not try one of these break ideas?

  1. Exercise can be very beneficial for your body and brain. If you are able to go to the gym, or go for a walk or a run at lunch time, then this will really help to boost your productivity. In fact, experts at commercial office furniture company Calibre have also produced a useful blog on smart & subtle ways of exercising at work. A great read indeed!
  2. Socialising with other co-workers can allow your brain to focus on something else and talking to your colleagues about any work problems might help to shed some light or give you new ideas for approaching your task in a different way.
  3. Make a tea/coffee, not only will you have the chance to change your environment which can help your brain to recover, you also get a tasty caffeinated drink, which can boost your energy levels.
  4. Have lunch/eat something healthy to help replenish your brain, this will be more beneficial if staff do it away from their office desks.
  5. Take a power nap, switching off from all distractions around you can help centre yourself and it will relieve any stress you feel. If you don’t want to nap, try to empty your mind and focus on your breathing for 5 minutes.
  6. If you are a dreamer, stare out the window and have a little daydream, this will help to take you out of your activities and focus on something else in your mind.
  7. Get creative by doing some drawing or doodling, this will help to activate your creativity, which in turn can boost your productivity.