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The Secret to Maximum Productivity: 17-Minute Breaks

Think about your regular work schedule. How many long stretches of work do you do? Do you take any breaks? When was the last time you took a lunch break away from your desk? If you rarely do so, you're not alone. If I asked you why, I'm sure I would hear this reason: I'm too busy.

Yes, you are busy. But here's the catch 22: by not taking breaks, you're not as productive as you would be if you did.

If you work from home, you're just as likely to skip taking a break. This is due to a couple of reasons: You want to prove that you're not shirking your work or you believe that you don't need a break because you work from home. But both of these justifications are wrong.

The Negative Impact of Skipping Your Break

Here are just some of the negative impacts of skipping your break.

Your creative juices dry out

If you use your creativity in any capacity, skipping your break can be directly and seriously detrimental to your productivity.

You exhaust your problem-solving capabilities

One of the best effects of taking a break is shifting your focus and then returning to a problem with fresh eyes. If you don't allow yourself regular breaks, you exhaust your problem-solving capabilities.

The quality of your work suffers

When you're not well-rested and focused, you're not producing your best work. Even if technically you're putting in less time when you take breaks, the quality of the time you do put in is much higher. When it comes to time spent working, more does not always equal better.

You get burned out more easily

If all this weren't enough for employers to get behind taking more breaks, here's another reason: You are much more likely to get burnt out if you continue to skip taking a break. And if you get burnt out, your job satisfaction plummets.

How Long Should Your Breaks Be?

According to research by the Draugiem Group, the most productive workers work in spurts of 52 minutes and then rest for 17 minutes. These top performers share the ability to use their time more wisely as opposed to just working for more time.

So now that you know the ideal amount of time that your regular rests should be, what's the best way to use that time?

What are the Best Ways to Take a Break?

Hint: it has nothing to do with email.

The best ways to use those 17-minute breaks are to completely disconnect from the work that awaits you. Here are some examples:

Take a walk

Besides being a good activity for a break, the movement of walking directly benefits the brain. Take a walk around the neighborhood to recharge and do some good for your body.

Eat

Another negative effect of skipping breaks is not fueling your body with the energy it needs to perform mental work. Use your break to eat — away from your computer! — a healthy meal or snack.

Get out some paper

Draw, doodle, write... put some creative thoughts to paper. Did you know that doodling improves focus and memory?

Practice Mindfulness

Perhaps one of the most powerful things you can do during your break is to practice mindfulness. Meditation alleviates stress and boosts overall health — critical changes to improve your productivity. If you're new to meditation, try using the Calm app to get started.

Stretch

Yoga combines mindfulness and exercise — a perfect combo for your break. Here's a short yoga sequence you can do during your breaks.

Dance/Sing/Make a Fool of Yourself

Hey, you work from home! Take advantage of the fact that you work in the privacy of your own home to do something silly. Load up your favorite dance jams playlist on Spotify and let the music move you. Or belt out your favorite power ballads.

 

There are countless options... but the important thing to remember is to actually take regular breaks and to make those breaks count. Your productivity is on the line!

Now go take a break!

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