Breaks and Productivity
Sitting down for hours to complete a project is an extremely difficult task for many people. People are likely to wander off after a certain amount of time spent working on the same topic. breaks are usually looked down upon and can be used to argue time management problems. It is typical of students to get side tracked while taking a break. Going on your phone is an extremely dangerous thing to do when you are avoiding distractions. If you are taking a 9 minute break for every 51 minutes you spent studying, you are essentially wasting 9 minutes that you could have spent studying. Is it really considered wasting time though?
Kenneth T. Strongman and Christopher D.B. Burt, conducted two studies to examine the difference between taking breaks from physical and mental labor. Participants were quick to name more reasons for taking short breaks from mental work rather than physical work. It seems that participants believed there is more leeway when it comes to mental work whereas physical work is often assigned by an employer. Results showed that general reasons for taking breaks fall into three categories such as one’s own state and needings, things to do with activity such as walking, talking, etc.); or, lastly, things to do for other people. Results of the study also concluded that taking more breaks can lead to a better academic performance and those of higher academic success are prompted to take shorter and more frequent breaks. The article emphasizes the importance of perseverance when it comes to trying these methods. It is much more painless to in the moment to extend your break, but that will only hurt you later.
A famous study conducted by Shai Danziger, Jonathan Levav, and Liora Avnaim- Pesso examined the factors that go into judicial rulings. “Are judicial rulings based solely on laws and facts?” is the main question being answered in the study. The results of the study conclude that there are factors influencing judges’ decisions that should have no bearing. Judges were found to be more likely to agree to a favorable ruling at the very beginning of the day or right after a food break. The probability of a favorable ruling decreases as the day goes by and increases right after break. The study is unable to detect whether a break in general helped their moods since it did not measure their moods and breaks were strictly taken to eat a meal. According to author S.J. Scott, “the need to make frequent decisions throughout your day can wear down your willpower and reasoning ability.” Scott used this study to point out that “decision fatigue” is real and “leads to simplistic decision-making and procrastination.” In other words, the judges were taking the safest and easiest option by saying no. Saying no does not involve much thinking or paperwork.
It is crucial to understand the difference between interruptions and breaks. Interruptions are unplanned moments where you are forced to pause your task. During a break you choose the perfect time to take a break which led to solving more insight problems. In conclusion, constant sitting at your desk or computer increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. A small break to walk or stretch can be beneficial from the side effects. According to author Nir Eyal, “When we work, our prefrontal cortex makes every effort to help us execute our goals. But for a challenging task that requires our sustained attention, research shows briefly taking our minds off the goal can renew and strengthen motivation later on.” It is necessary to get your brain thinking about other things in order to have a fresh set of eyes when resuming your work.
Working for a long period of time is known to lead to exhaustion. Not just physical exhaustion, but mental as well. Sleep is known to help rest our brain and consolidate memories. Sleep assists our brain in memorizing and learning new material, but evidence shows resting while awake improves memory formation as well.