If you are interested in performing at your best, take proper breaks seriously.
Knowing when and how to give your brain a break has a huge influence on your performance and ability to grasp new ideas, skills and concepts.
People who have discovered this magic productivity secret crush their goals, get more done and do more better work every day.
According to research, the brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time. You lose your focus and your performance on the task declines.
The brain naturally functions in spurts of high energy (roughly an hour) followed by spurts of low energy (10–20 minutes).
“For most of us, this natural ebb and flow of energy leave us wavering between focused periods of high energy followed by far less productive periods when we tire and succumb to distractions,” writes Dr Travis Bradberry.
Working with your body, not against it is the ultimate productivity hack. You can’t demand more of your brain if it’s low on energy.
“Push yourself through too many hours or days of work and your brain starts to push back. Ideas that once flowed easily dry up, and tasks that you should be able to perform quickly become excruciatingly difficult,” says Minda Zetlin, co-author of The Geek Gap.
You have more control over how your brain than you think— you can give your brain exactly what it needs to function at its best.
Prioritise brain and movement breaks
Short brain breaks after an intense sprint of deep work have been shown to increase attention, concentration — making it easier to focus on important tasks. Research shows you’ll do better work if you take more downtime to refresh your brain.
Science writer Ferris Jabr explains in this Scientific American article: “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life … moments of respite may even be necessary to keep one’s moral compass in working order and maintain a sense of self.”
A “brain break” is quality time away from work, intense physical exertion, or activity. You can take a deliberate break with the intention of getting back to your task within a reasonable amount of time.
Brief mental breaks can help you stay focused on your task and improve your performance. A structured downtime can help you do your best work.
You can easily take 5 or ten minutes “ brain and movement breaks” to improve your performance, solve problems better or generate better ideas.
Don’t feel like you’ve hit a wall before you take brain break — plan them in between deep work sessions. Think of your work as an hour sprint, and take 10 minutes to refresh your brain and resume the next sprint.
Instead of working for hours and then trying to battle through distractions and fatigue, when your productivity begins to dip (roughly after an hour), take this as a sign that it’s time for a break.
“We often let fatigue win because we continue working through it (long after we’ve lost energy and focus), and the breaks we take aren’t real breaks,” says Bradberry.
You can really enter a vicious cycle when you put your head down and keep working without better breaks.
Take proper breaks, often. Sometimes you just need a few minutes break — a chance to reboot your most important tool.
Take a walk, meditate, or get some fresh air and come back to your work with a refreshed mind. Don’t wait until your body tells you to take a break.
Some people find the Pomodoro Technique of using 25 minutes of work alternated with five minutes of break works well. You can give it a try.
Plan your breaks or better still prioritise them. Keeping to your schedule ensures that your brain delivers exactly what you expect of it — better performance and improved concentration.
Remember, it’s far more productive to rest for short periods than it is to keep on working when you’re tired and distracted. It pays to completely clear your mind and begin again. Mental breaks boost productivity, improve attention, and even encourage creativity.
This post was previously published on ILLUMINATION-Curated.
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