In many cultures, breaks are not required to be taken by employees during work. Many employees are constantly striving to perform at their best, forcing them to work overtime and take on extra projects. This mentality is often brought by employers, mentors, and parents. Overworked employees are regularly stressed in ways that may affect their personal lives as well. We are constantly told to “work hard” to achieve the desired results, but could it be possible that “playing hard” can also deliver the desired results?
Breaks are perceived as a distraction and an unnecessary task in most workplaces. That may be true for those who are taking breaks the wrong way. You would be surprised to hear that there is indeed a right and wrong way to take breaks. It is important to note that not all breaks provide the same psychological benefits. Drinking caffeine, online shopping, venting to your coworkers, and mindlessly snacking could increase fatigue and decrease your focus when you return to work. It takes no effort or second thought for a person to endlessly scroll through social media and forget their 10 minute break. You may get instant gratification from doing so, but it only negatively affects you in the long run. It is essential to take the right break in order to maximize effectiveness. Working for a long period of time puts stress on our brain since we are constantly fighting the urge to take a break or pick up our phones. Like any other muscle, the brain deserves a break as well.
It is proven essential to take a 17 minute break every 52 minutes of work. Knowing that a beak is coming up, motivates you to stay focused and work with a purpose. It increases boredom and gives your body the chance to recharge and shift your focus to something else to decrease lack of focus. Scheduling your breaks and setting a clear intention for every break, is the best way to take full advantage of your downtime. Stopping for a break while you are still having fun also increases excitement and productivity when you return to work.
In an article that was written by Charlotte Fritz, Allison M. Ellis, and Caitlin A. Demsky. It emphasizes the importance of managers encouraging their employees to take a break. It is crucial for managers to acknowledge that employees may need different ways to recover from work as well as in their preferences for integrating work and non-work life. Creating workplaces with enough flexibility to allow employees to fulfill their needs with regard to work-life balance is crucial for employees’ job satisfaction and their commitment to the organization. “Supervisors Support of employees’ work-life balance is especially important. In the worst case, employees may even consider leaving an organization if their needs for recovery and work-life balance are not being met” (Fritz 279.) Employees who are not overworked and are cared for in this way, produce more success for the organization. Organizations who are providing healthy break environments also decrease the chance of the employee taking a “bad” break or wasting their time. Supervised breaks can be extremely beneficial to the total success of the organization.
It has been long known to scientists that a human brain or body cannot function to produce maximum output for 8-10 hours a day. Although, this fact has been long known to scientists, employers still ignore it for the sole purpose of believing that it puts a dent in productivity and organization. Research proves that taking breaks actually enhances your overall productivity and performance. There’s also evidence that waking periods of mental rest can improve memory formation. During rest periods, your brain is subconsciously reviewing the information you have retained. Without rest, you run the risk of experiencing the old “in one ear, out the other” phenomenon. A psychology professor once told me that the best way to study and retain information is by spaced interval studying and self testing. Spacing out your studying is the key to also remember the information after you completed the assessment.
In conclusion, the “workaholic” culture does not produce the best outcome. It is essential for the human brain to take breaks in order to recharge. This boosts creativity, focus, productivity, etc. Giving your prefrontal cortex a break is a must to maintain productivity in the workplace or even between students. It is critical for employers to create guidelines for the breaks to minimize wasted time.