Smart Ways to Keep Your Work Breaks Productive

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Focus and uninterrupted flow are essential for productivity. Nothing beats getting into a good period of deep concentration and finishing tasks. Ticking things off your to-do list does give a great sense of accomplishment.

But have you ever felt stumped at work? No matter how hard you try or how many ways you try attacking the problem, you can never seem to make it work.

Out of frustration, you take some time off. When you come back, you surprisingly feel refreshed and ready to take on the task once more. You took a break, and it helped. 

Why Take Breaks?

Breaks are brief periods away from work. Still, they can do wonders for people’s productivity. How?

When working, the part of our brain called the prefrontal cortex (PFC) does its best to keep us focused on the goal. It is mainly responsible for decision-making and goal achievement, which is a lot of work. Some downtime can help reduce stress levels and keep our PFC happy and ready to perform.

What You Can Do

There’s no need to overthink how you can spend your breaks. If you have a method that works for you, then great! But if you want to try something new, it’s best to find activities that stimulate other areas of the brain.

Below are some cool suggestions:

Meditate or practice breathing exercises

Meditation is a centuries-old practice proven to improve mindfulness and reduce stress. Not only is it an effective way to help you feel better, but it also needs no special equipment. You just need your brain and a few minutes of your time.

If you’re new to meditation, you can find a lot of free mobile apps, YouTube videos, and other resources online. Starting with guided sessions can ease you into this refreshing practice.

Move your body

You don’t have to do a full-body workout (if you don’t want to), but moving your body is a great way to re-energize. Sneaking in some movement into your day is especially important in stationary jobs. 

Spending extended amounts of time sitting can pose some health risks. Still, sitting can be an unavoidable part of work. Staying physically active can help counteract these effects.

For starters, you can do a couple of stretches or take a walk around your workplace. Anything to keep the body moving. Aside from keeping your body healthy, exercise improves memory and other cognitive functions. Try it out during your next break.

Tidy up your space

For some of us, a disorganized space adds to the mental clutter we’re already dealing with. Thus, a great way to spend a work break would be to tidy up our workspace.

Many studies have shown a link between stress levels and cluttered spaces. Having a mess in our line of sight can make it harder for our brains to process the goals we have at hand. It can also add to our frustration, which makes us less productive, and starts the cycle all over again.

We don’t need to do regular overhauls of our spaces, but setting aside a few minutes to tidy up would be helpful. The act of cleaning and organizing can even be therapeutic. 

If you want, don’t limit yourself to just cleaning up your desk. You can also spend your breaks organizing other areas of your home or workplace.

Spend time with friends or family

Whether online or offline, it’s always great to connect with people while on break. Humans are social beings. It’s only healthy for us to forge relationships and communicate with our fellows. 

Socialization also helps decrease stress levels and makes us feel happier.

If you work in an office space, it might be good to walk around or hang out in a common area with your peers. You can catch up with each other’s lives or talk about common experiences. You work in the same place, after all.

If you’re working from home, you could check on your housemates or family members. Relax with them for a while and talk about your day. If you live alone, you could shoot a message to someone you care about or have a brief call.

Take a nap

In a world obsessed with productivity and hustle culture, some people may look down on naps. They are often seen as equivalent to laziness or slacking off. This assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Regular naps are a great way to boost productivity. Forcing yourself to keep working when sleep-deprived is no good. Fatigue and sleep deprivation only decrease work performance and affect one’s health.

If you’re feeling tired or frustrated at work, take a short nap. It won’t hurt anybody. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready to face the day once more.

Play a game

Mainstream culture usually associates video games with children or unproductive bums. Although this can be true in some cases, it’s also an unfair generalization.

Video games are more than mindless fun. Forty-five minutes of video games can increase workplace productivity by 20%. This is according to a study by Brigham Young University. Its effects were most prominent in collaborative video games played among coworkers.

Aside from building better relationships, playing games can also help stimulate the brain. This is especially true for more cerebral games like crosswords or Spider Solitaire

Not only are games a great way to unwind, but they also exercise our brains for better cognition.

Breaks are a great opportunity to rest and recharge. Enjoy each minute, and try something new every day.