The importance of taking regular breaks when you are performing certain types of work tasks cannot be overestimated. When you are doing something like writing a long document, or looking for mistakes in a spreadsheet, for example, your concentration will be much better if you take breaks every half an hour or so. Some people use a method called the ‘Pomodoro technique’, where they work solidly for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break, and this has proven to be very successful for some people, in terms of keeping up focus and motivation.
The Right Kind of Breaks
It is not just taking a break that is important but taking a break that takes your mind away from your task, and leaves you feeling refreshed. A lot of people stay at their computers and use the time to look at social media and this tends to have less of a positive effect than doing something different from just reading your computer screen, as you can scroll endlessly through your newsfeed and never feel like you’ve reached the end of it.
It can be a lot more satisfying to have a break where you feel like you have achieved something, even if that is just reaching the end of an article, finishing watching a video, or having a quick go on a game and finishing your turn.
If You Can’t Step Away
In general, it is recommended to get away from your computer during your breaks, but for some people stepping away for 5 minutes breaks the flow of their working habit. These people prefer to take their breaks at their desk and reserve going away for a walk or to do something else for longer breaks such as their lunch break. If you decide that you want to take your breaks at your desk, then there are a few ways that you can make sure what you are doing with your time is refreshing and relaxing and makes you feel ready to go back to your task when your 5 minutes is up.
Things that you can do include something like watching a 5-minute YouTube video that is not related to your work, having a quick chat on the phone with a friend, or playing a game on your mobile phone or through your browser. You can find some good online sport games play free which have short rounds or levels that you can complete during one of these breaks.
Returning to Work
As you will be taking the short breaks a couple of times an hour, you should never feel like you are too bored of the task you are doing, but it is important that when you return to work after your break, you put 100% of your focus back into your task. This means that you should probably avoid doing anything in your five-minute break that will leave you feeling like you still have something to complete there, for example reading just a few pages of a chapter of a book. It is better to do something that you can feel is over and done with at the end of your break.
Becoming effective at using your break times is almost as important to your productivity as how you feel when you are working. Try some of these ideas for using your breaks and see how much your focus and motivation improves.