Five ways taking breaks can improve productivity

You have a lot on your plate at work. Every moment counts. Squeezing the most out of your time can be the difference between getting things done and taking things home.

Your remedy? Ploughing through the workday with your head down in hopes of accomplishing as much as possible come end of the day. In today’s workplace, it’s common for employees to skip breaks because of the volume of their workload. But did you know taking breaks during your daily routine is a good way to improve productivity?

So why don’t we do it? Whatever the reason, it’s important to prioritize taking breaks throughout the day. Here are five simple tips to maximize breaks for increased productivity.

1. Take a walk

It’s easy to become sedentary since most of us sit in front of a computer all day. Push away from the desk and move around your workspace, floor or building. Going on a brisk walk allows you not only to get your blood flowing, but also takes your mind off any stress you’re experiencing. Scientists recently found that walk or jog breaks calm people down by triggering nerve cells in the brain that relax the senses. If you can, try taking breaks outside or near a green space, even better.

2. Meditate

Might sound hokey to some, but a recent study showed that meditating at work can increase focus and decrease stress. David Levy, a computer scientist and professor with the Information School at the University of Washington, found that those who had meditation training were able to stay on task longer and were less distracted. If you’re having trouble finding your workday Zen, do some research to find out what techniques are most effective—and realistic—for you.


3. Have a conversation

On the surface, conversing with coworkers seems like the least productive activity you can engage in. It not only takes away from the time you could be working, it affects the time of those around you. However, a 2013 Gallup study discovered that strong social ties in the workplace boosts productivity and could help employees enjoy their work more.

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4. Eat something

Enjoying a snack is a typical workday activity, but instead of grabbing something from the vending machine, why not opt for a healthier choice? Nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and tuna contain nutrients that boost energy and focus without a sugar crash. If possible, take your snack outside or away from your desk to physically separate yourself from your work.

5. Take a nap

Did you know that taking a nap at work helps you focus? According to the National Sleep Foundation, taking a 20- to 30-minute nap is recommended for short-term alertness. It aids performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. Snoozing on the job isn’t an option for everyone, so relying on tips one through four may have to suffice. However, could consider lying down in your car when sleepiness strikes or going home during lunch for a quick catnap. Just don’t forget to set your alarm!

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