How Brain Break Can Increase Focus and Productivity

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One thing to note: The popular Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes before taking a three- to five-minute break, is less a way to combat procrastination than it is to optimize intense focus. Getting back to work after an interruption takes time, Mr. Hari said. If your timer goes off but you’re still in the zone, keep going.

Consider your own circadian rhythm before setting a timer arbitrarily. Dr. Mark said that while many people’s attention spans peak around 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., things often drop off after lunch. You may be able to concentrate longer in the morning, but need more frequent breaks later in the day.

Dr. Mark said that going out into nature for some sort of physical activity is the best way to put your mind to rest. She worked with Microsoft Research on a study that found that employees who took 20-minute walks in nature came back to their jobs with a more “different focus,” meaning they had more time to return to work, than those who didn’t. But there were more creative ideas.

If you can’t get out in nature, even a walk around your office building will provide benefits. Dr. Pillai refers to afternoon physical activity as a “booster break,” based on a 2013 study that found that workers who took a 15-minute physical exercise break reported reduced stress and increased social interaction in their workplaces. informed of.

“We’ve devalued the idea of ​​what a break is so it’s, ‘I took a break from checking my emails on my computer so I can go for a walk and check my emails on my phone,'” Mr. Hari said. Checking email is still challenging your brain to stay in work-related networks, so you’re not letting your mind wander. Even browsing social media may not be the brain break you think.

“If you find something upsetting on Twitter, it can disrupt your work,” Dr. Mark said. “It’s going to be with you when you move on to something else.” When this happens, you won’t be ready to take on your next task fresh and focused, which was the purpose of your break.

In a 2013 Daily Beast article, Maya Angelou referred to her working process as switching between “the big mind and her little mind”. Her large mind served to craft the poems for which she became famous. Her little brain, which she used in between writing sessions, loved doing crosswords.

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