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Taking Breaks: How to Improve Productivity

Taking a break, eating noodle soup while reading a book

Taking a break is a great way to give your brain a rest. Regular breaks help avoid decision fatigue and keep your motivation and productivity high. Let’s figure out what kind of rest will be most effective and how often you should take it.

The modern world moves with great speed. Many people are afraid to stop even for a minute and stay behind others. However, it is very important to learn how to take breaks: they help you relax, lift your spirits, and have a positive effect on productivity. 

Taking breaks helps avoid decision fatigue

Decision fatigue is a decrease in the quality of our actions because we have had to make a lot of decisions for a long time. Professors Jonathan Levav of Stanford University and Shai Danziger of Ben-Gurion University found that this effect can lead to loss of concentration and procrastination.

In the study, the researchers found that judges were more likely to make parole decisions for prisoners if they took a lunch break. If judges worked several hours in a row, by the end of the day the parole rate dropped to almost zero. Because of decision fatigue, judges chose the option that required the least mental effort on their part.

A busy workday drains mental and physical resources. This can lead to a desire to postpone important tasks scheduled for the afternoon. Breaks support motivation toward long-term goals

A study by psychologist Larry Rosen and neuroscientist Adam Gazzali found that prolonged concentration on a single task can reduce productivity. Alejandro Jerasa, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, argues that interruptions help maintain focus. He notes that you should take short breaks during long tasks – for example, when studying for exams.

Breaks increase productivity and creativity

Breaks help manage stress and fatigue. In addition, moments of “insight” come precisely to those who take regular breaks.

Short walks during breaks also improve creativity. According to a Stanford University study, walking between mental work increases creativity – as opposed to continuous sedentary work. 

Taking breaks properly

Breaks are necessary, but it’s important to get them right. Not all ways to reset are beneficial. Browsing social media during a break can be counterproductive. According to a Huffington Post survey, taking a break from social media only increases stress levels. 

Here are some options for taking an effective break:

Physical activity

Physical activity during a break greatly improves concentration. Five-minute walking breaks during each work hour can improve mood and reduce apathy. Physical activity also has a positive effect on concentration and can dull hunger.


Meditation during a break is an effective way to reduce anxiety and increase brain activity. It is most helpful to meditate after waking up, during lunch, at the end of the workday, and every time you feel stressed.


Taking a short break to sleep can help you feel fresher and more energetic. A study published in Nature Neuroscience found that participants who took a half-hour sleep break during work were more alert than others. Sleeping for an hour was even more beneficial. 

Healthy snack

Glucose is the main fuel for the brain, so a healthy snack during a break is never a waste. Light yogurt, nuts, fruit, protein bars, or juice are ideal options for a healthy break.


Coffee is a good way to recharge. A small dose of caffeine helps keep you active and focused on tasks. However, it’s important not to consume too much coffee or drink it if you have any contraindications.

When breaks are needed

Researchers have different opinions on when to take breaks: 

  • university of Illinois researchers recommend taking breaks every hour;
  • Desktime, a timekeeping app, allocates 52 minutes to work, followed by a 17-minute break;
  • the “tomato” method recommends working for 25 minutes followed by a 3-5-minute break and then taking 15-30 minute breaks every 90 minutes.

The frequency of breaks also depends on the individual and the type of work that needs to be done. Try to take a break at least every 90 minutes. However, if your concentration begins to decline earlier, you can take a short break every 20 minutes.

Author’s bio: Jean S. Hartley is a professional writer for write my essay service. For 6 years now, she has been helping students learn to write correctly and also assists in preparing for exams. Jean worked in a marketing agency and she’s going to blog about it.

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