A break shouldn't just be good, it should also be effective. Breaks have a significant impact on our performance at work, I'm not telling you anything new. But do you really know how to organise your breaks, how long they should last to be effective, and above all, what you absolutely must not do during your break? Let me show you how to manage and organise your breaks effectively.
Taking a break to boost performance
Let's stop perpetuating the myth that our brain is capable of switching from one specific task to another without difficulty. In reality, our brain needs time to switch from one mode to another; it draws on our resources to be able to carry out each task and concentrate fully on it.
Have you ever noticed that after a certain amount of time spent on a specific task, you feel exhausted? That your powers of concentration diminish? Well, the maximum amount of time we can maintain optimal concentration on a task is around 1h30. That's why it's essential to know when to take a break to recharge our batteries regularly.
The solution lies in finding your own method for better assimilating information. For example, if you have an important assignment due in a few days' time, tackle it step by step. This will improve your concentration and enable you to focus on one thing at a time. Organise your timetable into 1.5 hour blocks with short breaks for fresh air or simply to get moving, especially if you regularly spend long hours in front of a screen.
An effective break: how does it work?
Everyone has a different opinion on the length and frequency of breaks to take to be truly effective. After taking a rough average, we can say that, to be really effective, a short break should last at least 10 minutes every 2 hours.
When we take a break, it's best to disconnect as much as possible from our office space, so that we can think about something else and return to our workstation with a refreshed mind. A break should be a time to relax, to let go of the stress that builds up and can have serious consequences for your health, your energy and that of your colleagues. However, it's not always easy to get away for a few minutes to relax in a world where everything is linked to our professional lives. It's essential to know how to take a break, to say 'stop' to yourself, so that you can come back performing better.
How do you plan a quality break?
To have time to take breaks, you need to be able to plan them. First of all, you need to identify the tasks assigned to you and their importance. This will enable you to schedule work periods for each task. Then you can plan your breaks in your diary.
A final important point is to be able to set limits, both for your colleagues and for yourself. You need to be rigorous and organise yourself as well as possible to avoid any interruptions when you have planned a break.
Fika's advice for an effective break :
- Get away from your desk: Change rooms, find a comfortable spot or take your break alone or accompanied.
- Listen to a podcast: We have access to lots of podcasts. You might as well take a little break and listen to a bit of your favourite podcast, whether it's to give you ideas at work or simply to do a guided meditation. Spotify is full of podcasts of all kinds.
- Get out in the sun: Well, in Belgium we can't always count on the sun being there, but when it is, we might as well take advantage of it to boost our vitamin D levels.
- Away from the screens: If you spend all day on the computer, read a paperback or pick up a book. Above all, keep screens out of your field of vision.
- Meditation: Meditation helps you refocus, and sometimes we need to take a little time for ourselves.
- Sweating to clear the head: If you have the opportunity to do some sport during one of your breaks, it's more than advisable! We're far too sedentary, and that only has positive effects.
- A quick break at the coffee machine: If there's one place that everyone (or at least most people) loves, it's the famous coffee corner! So why not take the opportunity to spend some time with your favourite colleague and enjoy a healthy, quality snack? It's also a great time to socialise with your colleagues.
- Escape through music: Help your mind get away from it all by listening to your favourite tunes, whether you're working or on your break. What's more, it invariably boosts your mood.
- Put your brain on pause: Do nothing at all and let your thoughts take over during a break. Who says you always have to be busy to de-stress?