We all pretty much agree that taking a little break away from work is helpful and actually makes us more productive when we come back to work. We're encouraged to use our break times to disconnect -get our mind off of working. Our breaks are not supposed to be job related i.e., talking about plans for the weekend, speaking to a relative, taking a short walk outside - then you come back to work feeling revitalized - right? According to an article in the Harvard Business Review (you can read this magazine in the North York Central Library's business Depatrment by Charlotte Fritz:
"The only time people showed an increase
in vitality was after they took short breaks to do
Fritz - an assistant professor in industrial/organizational psychology at Portland University did a series of studies on the way people unwind from work from short breaks to long vacations. The one study she did on short breaks showed that small breaks unrelated to work had no statistical relationship to more energy, sometimes they were even associated with more fatigue. However, breaks which were work related boost energy.
So, according to the study it seems that in the middle of work, you'll do better when you focus on work. This doesn't necessarily mean to work all day without taking a break, here are a few suggestions - I know that I unintentionally do some of these things on my breaks:
- Write a to do list for the day - I know for myself, when I write a to do list between working it also helps me to focus and prioritize my tasks for the rest of the day.
- Praise a colleague -altruism almost always makes you feel better too!
- Try to learn something new related to your field - sometimes, I'll go through some of the magazines in my department - 4th floor Business Department.
- Set a new personal career/job goal.
So, although I understand the points made in the article I still can't help beleiving that taking your mind off work for a short period of time does revitalize you. Also, I know that going outside and stretching your muscles, unfocusing your eyes from the computer screen gives me an energy boost, especially in the summer.
A great deal of research does show that, the more time you spend in your chair the less productive you may be. Some companies even implement physical activity into workdays by having eliptical machines in front of computer screens, stability balls as chairs, or even complimentary yoga classes at lunch - the company Forbes has a gym on the 9th floor where employees can do a variety of physical activities.
(even in heels!)
So all in all, I think I like my coffee breaks and my outdoor breaks, but I do see how doing light things related to work could make you more productive too. What do you think?
- Miss Spencer