In the modern, fast-paced, and competitive work environment, seizing moments of relaxation and incorporating them can significantly impact employee productivity.
Recent studies highlight the efficacy of integrating microbreaks within your team to decrease weariness and boost vitality, presenting a potential remedy for individuals managing hectic workdays.
Whether it involves enjoying a brief snack following an intense meeting or strolling outdoors for 10 minutes after a taxing day, embracing microbreaks proves immensely important in equipping employees with the energy required to tackle their daily responsibilities.
The impact of taking small breaks in work productivity
Researchers from the journal PLOS ONE analysed how breaks lasting 10 minutes or less affected students in labs or employees at workplaces. The studies came from various countries, including the United States, Netherlands, China, Austria, Germany, Australia, Brazil, and Japan.
The study showed that doing things not related to work, like taking a walk, can make you less tired and more positive. They also found that watching a short video can help you feel better and do your job better.
However, tasks that demand a lot of mental effort, tasks needing a high level of brain power, didn't improve much with microbreaks. In fact, work-related tasks such as checking emails or assisting a colleague were linked to lower sleep quality, decreased well-being, and heightened negative emotions, the report noted.
Routine tasks are things we do automatically without needing our full brain power. These tasks can make our minds wander, leading to errors. Taking a break can reduce mistakes and help us refocus.
Creative tasks require us to search for relevant information in our minds while ignoring unrelated ideas. Short breaks let us focus on something different for a while, which can boost creativity and flexibility.
The studies showed that for people doing such tasks, a short break could bring back some energy, but it couldn't fully restore all the mental resources needed to finish the task.
How to have effective microbreaks for enhanced work performance
Microbreaks, short pauses during work, can significantly boost your productivity and well-being. Follow these five steps to implement microbreaks effectively:
- Know your preferences: Consider your tasks and personal preferences. If you're enjoying an activity, you might need fewer breaks. Identify tasks that drain you or cause stress, as they might require more breaks.
- Set intervals: Aim for a work interval of around 90 minutes, followed by a 15 to 20-minute break. Within the working period, sprinkle in microbreaks. For instance, incorporate a 5- to 10-minute stretch break every 20 or 30 minutes. Plan a longer break to step away from your task midway through the 90-minute block.
- Diverse activities: During microbreaks, engage in activities that help you recharge. Simple options include stretching, light exercise like walking, or relaxation techniques. Remember, the key is choosing what resonates with you.
- Personalise your breaks: Tailor your breaks to suit your personality. Extroverts might opt for social interactions like coffee breaks with colleagues, while introverts may prefer quiet moments with a book or a stroll.
- Flexibility is key: Managers and companies might worry about excessive breaks. However, recognize that the frequency and length of breaks can vary based on tasks and individual needs. Embrace flexibility, especially in today's hybrid work environments.
Microbreaks act like refreshing sips of water to stay focused. Prioritise self-care and boost your productivity by integrating these short but powerful pauses into your work routine. Remember, the ultimate goal is to find a balance between optimal productivity and maintaining a healthy, well-rounded life.