5 Simple Guidelines For Better Breaks

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- 3 min read

Now that most of us have returned from vacation and are getting back at it in the (home) office, it's time for some plain and simple tips to keep that vacation vibe going as long as possible. The key to success? Breaks!

Contrary to today's (somewhat) popular "hustle" culture, which propagates a work-your-ass-off-or-you're-a-loser attitude to work, science shows us that taking breaks at work is vital.

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In one of this year's most widely shared blog posts, "Brain Research Confirms Stupidity Of Back-to-Back Meetings," we showed how taking breaks between meetings dramatically reduced stress while increasing focus and engagement.

However, there's still a bit more to be learned regarding this subject, so here are a few short and simple guidelines to help you ensure better breaks.

Breaks suck rock

Just before summer, we shared the stage with Bucket List pioneer Daniel Pink at an event in Copenhagen, Denmark. During his talk, Dan shared some powerful insights into taking better breaks at work. Or, as he said in his book When - The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, "a growing body of science makes it clear: breaks are not a sign of sloth but a sign of strength."

Something beats nothing

First things first, taking breaks definitely beats not taking any at all. Short breaks increase focus and even reactivate our commitment to a goal. That's even the case with micro-breaks. Set an alarm clock, stop typing, and relax for a sec. It's really that simple.

Moving beats stationary

Another plain and simple piece of advice: a little bit of physical activity can improve the quality of your breaks. An hourly five-minute walking break boosts energy levels and improves your overall mood while reducing fatigue in the afternoon. Plus, short walks increase motivation, concentration and creativity.

What's not to like?

Social beats solo

Try to avoid isolating yourself during your breaks. Research indicates that taking breaks with others helps reduce stress and errors while improving mood—especially when the topics being discussed aren't work-related.

So, when taking a break, take a few hostages. But don't talk about work.

Outside beats inside

Get out. Immerse yourself in a bit of nature. Find some trees, plants, rivers, and lakes. Research shows, once again, that outdoor environments improve moods and help us to replenish more effectively. It's like a detox of sorts from the indoors. Put yourself around some actual living things before sitting back down in that office chair and submerging yourself in devices, screens, and other digital/electronic stuff under the glow of mostly artificial light.

Fully detached beats semi-detached

One final tip: stop multitasking during breaks. Don't check your phone and don't talk about work—even for a second. Just enjoy the break itself. That's what will replenish you most.

What now?

Well, what do you think? Take a break! Get up, get out, get social. And leave your phone behind!

Now go enjoy your vastly improved breaks.

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