You MUST take a break.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, an employee, a freelancer or business owner, science says you should leisurely take a break if you want to increase your productivity and improve your health which will ultimately bring you more success in your work.
Stop working during lunch breaks, stop thinking about your work during these times. Abandon the need to constantly check your emails. Just take your time, leisurely, having your break. You may think you are being productive, yet sorry to burst your bubble, the fact is that the opposite is true.
When you keep working during your break-time you are candidly exercising the liberty to clutter your mind. It is scientifically proven that taking a break from work will help you be more productive and allow you more room for creativity resulting in better performance. Aside from that, it’s also good for your health or at least prevent you from worsening your conditions.
Dear you, studies show that your mind can only function, concentrate, and even absorb new information for only a few straight hours. Specifically, results of researches made by Gao et al., Floru and Cail suggest that performance starts to deteriorate after 50-60 minutes of continuous work.
Web-Us published article entitled "Memory, the brain and it's natural learning rhythms" can attest to this. To quote, "The breaks will give your mind a chance to rest from learning, and doing something different will actually stimulate it." Synonym by Demand Media, an eHow Education site, also encourage students and professionals to do so. One article written by C.A. Rubino highlighted the importance of taking breaks because your brain needs time to rest and digest the information it has received.
Some studies also indicates that when your memory is first recorded in your brain, it can still be forgotten if the brain is asked to do more things. Taking a break, like napping, helps put the new information to the more permanent storage of the brain (neocortex). From Master Student to Master Employee, a book written by Dave Ellis, notes that you cannot absorb new information and ideas during all of your waking hours. In the words of the author, if you overload your brain, it will find a way to shut down for a rest whether you plan for it or not. When you take periodic breaks, you allow information to sink in better. During breaks, your brain is taking the time to rewire itself by growing new connections between cells.
If you’re a student or a corporate employee that works at least eight hours a day under scheduled breaks, say for 15 minutes to an hour for lunch; then take it unhurriedly. If you’re on a leadership/management position, a business owner, consultant, a freelancer, or working in a job that does not require you to take breaks on specific time intervals - delightfully heed this advice: take at least 10 minutes break for every hour that you’ve worked.
No, I am not implying that you should prioritize having a time-off over your work. That is definitely not the case, instead, the suggestion is such as the need to sharpen the saw, breaks will help you perform better physically, emotionally and most especially, mentally!
Taking a break is crucial to your health, productivity and success. Here are two solid reasons why:
First, a well-rested mind is more productive than an exhausted one.
Let me not start by citing scientific findings; let me instead remind you of the many times you stop-and-stare. Remember the time you studied so hard or prepare for an exam? With hard, I mean studying continuously until late at night and then waking up early to review your notes only to end up staring at the test questionnaire draining your mind and you can’t seem to remember the answers. Albeit, you know you really did study thoroughly!
The case is simple; your mind is exhausted. If you don't allow it to rest, it will shut down by itself. Maybe not totally and literally power off, but it will give you warning signals here and there and sometimes in an untimely manner. Liken to a computer, your brain is the motherboard, once you fail to optimize it, start neglecting it, eventually it will lead to performance issues.
The same is true when you’re working, your brain is the busiest part of your body. Ask your colleagues if you stare-blank from time to time. Please don’t assume it’s normal. However, it’s not the only indication to look for. Try checking yourself: are you feeling exhausted? Do you find it hard concentrating? Do you feel tired all the time? Are you feeling impatient constantly?
Freelancers like myself, consultants, executives, business owners and the like may feel that it’s a requisite to be productive. The demand of work affect our earning capacity as well as the security of holding on to that position; not to mention our performance should be congruent not just for our own benefit, but for the welfare of the company and the people you have committed to serve.
Nevertheless, you have to deliberately stop being a crisis manager and from time to time distance yourself from bustling. In the words of Stephen Covey, activity does not equal productivity. You may be busy doing a lot of things, but does it really make you productive? Is the quality of your work, or the results you seek at its best? Ask yourself and be honest.
Take your breaks because a well-rested brain thinks faster, is more alert and sharp. It will also give you better chances in completing your tasks effectively and efficiently. Remember, numerous scientific studies have proved that doing so leads to enhanced performance.
Second, time-offs helps you avoid burning-out, improves your well-being and help you manage stress
Taking at least 10-15 minutes walk, stretching, and even napping can increase your ability to remain calm on difficult work situations. A time-off signals your brain to calm down and that you’re not on a panic mood. It prevents you also from being stressed to the point of unusual pulse rate, high-blood pressure and other stress-induced conditions.
Robert Stickgold, a neuroscientist at Harvard University in Cambridge, research findings suggest that the "burnout" sensation that comes with any sort of information overload may result from fatigue in specific brain regions; "Burnout is a signal that says you can't take in more information in this part of your brain until you've had a chance to sleep."
Scheduling a 15-minute break before you burnout is also suggested by Harvard Business Review. This is because you have a limited capacity for concentrating over an extended period of time. Usually you don’t know how to recognize fatigue, but they do derail your work.
Your entire being works well when given proper rest. Too much of everything has never been good. So remind yourself to relax and try to apply the old saying: work hard, play harder. And if you are having trouble doing so, encourage yourself to meditate, indulge in a good music or literature, take short walks, exercise, or whatever it is that'll help you relax.