Productivity Improves When We Take Regular Breaks

Deschutes River - breaks and productivity

“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.”

– Ferris Jabr, Scientific American

Here we are in the midst of the busy holiday season, and I’m suggesting you take a break. Don’t have time, you say? Then you probably don’t know that researchers have found that productivity actually improves when we take regular breaks.

Of course, it would be too easy if scientists agreed on how long and often the breaks should be, but there is firm agreement on the fact that working straight through the day without numerous breaks means we accomplish less, not more.

There are multiple ideas about exactly how long we’re supposed to work before taking a break. Options include:

  • Working 20 minutes and taking a short break. Then, after working 80 minutes in total, taking a longer break (the Pomodoro technique).
  • Working 52 minutes and taking a break for 17 minutes.
  • Working 90 minutes and taking a break for 20 minutes.

I’m a firm believer that few things in life are one-size-fits-all, so I suggest you try different break schedules and see which ones improve your productivity the most. You’ll probably also find that some schedules are better for work, while others are better for home.

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.