Ever wondered whether it’s better to complete your work in small periods of time or to just power through it? Studies have shown that most full-time workers spend more than the typical 40 hours a week at work. And many employees don’t even break for lunch anymore.
There’s no federal mandate on employee breaks, but some states require them. Regardless of what legal requirements you’re under, breaks make total business sense.
In this article, we’ll tell you why breaks are beneficial and give you a few guidelines to follow.
6 Benefits of Taking Breaks at Work
Brain breaks are essential to employee morale. Studies have shown that while breaks don’t always increase productivity, they do lead to higher job satisfaction, a more balanced emotional health, and a stronger desire to go above-and-beyond.
Just like feeling thirsty is your body’s way of begging for water, taking a break when you’re exhausted is your body begging for downtime. There are benefits to stopping before you’re completely exhausted. Let’s take a look at some of them.
1. Time to reevaluate your goals for the day
Even taking 5 minutes every couple of hours to reassess your daily goals can make a big difference in the way your day goes. We all know how a hundred things are waiting to redirect our focus at any given time.
So by taking stock in what you’ve done and what you want to complete before the day is over, you’re able to better set yourself up for success.
2. A chance to refocus on your work
Too often, the time we have for actual work is taken up by emails, meetings, and little tasks that seem to get us nowhere. A brief break in the workday is a chance to push the restart button. You can make an effort to spend the next block of time on an important project and vow to block out any distractions.
One research study suggests that “when faced with long tasks…it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”
3. Injury reduction in physical jobs
Allowing the body to rest during the day is doubly important for jobs involving physical labor. Any twisting, bending, lifting, or carrying that happens on the job can take its toll.
Workers who have an opportunity to rest their bodies can reduce injury.
4. A creativity boost
How many times have you struggled to figure out a solution to a problem, or come up with new creative ideas at work — only to have the perfect idea or solution hit you when you’re enjoying dinner with friends and family? Spending too many hours with your nose to the grindstone can actually do more harm than good when it comes to creativity.
Taking a few strategic breaks throughout the day will give your mind a chance to organically come up with the solutions you’re looking for.
5. Prevention of eye strain and other ergonomic problems
As you may have noticed, we’re kind of obsessed with the physical impact the workplace has on employees. Sitting or standing in one position for too long causes muscle tension and can create painful knots.
Similarly, staring at a computer screen for hours at a time has an impact on vision, and can cause headaches. Periodic breaks allow workers to stretch and relax, which can help avoid injuries.
6. Lowering stress by allowing decompression
When employees have too much stress, they can’t produce quality work. That’s why periodic breaks can allow for a little decompression.
Whether your employees can do some breathing exercises, read a chapter of a book, or even get a massage at work, anything that reduces office stress will improve a workday break.
6 Guidelines for Better Workday Breaks
1. Take it earlier in the day.
It does more good to take a break before your body is completely exhausted.
2. Disconnect from work.
If you turn your mind off of your job, it’ll help you rejuvenate and you’ll be able to focus better when you get back to your desk.
3. Focus on eating.
If you’re taking a lunch break, put that phone away and let your mind refresh.
4. Change your scenery.
Go for a walk outside or sit down at a cafe. A physical refresh will help you mentally refresh.
5. Take a nap break.
Many companies have “nap rooms” because napping improves productivity. It may seem counter-intuitive but a nap is the ultimate refresh.
Talking to other people can really help you clear up things in your own mind.