Working from Home: How to Use Your Breaks Effectively
How are you taking your breaks?
Have you been overworking? Are you feeling all exhausted and the evidence is everywhere? Well my friend, it may be time to take a break.
We have stressed, time and time again the importance of taking frequent breaks to boost productivity when you work from home. It may sound counterintuitive to equate productivity with taking breaks, but when you are constantly draining yourself of energy due to stress and fatigue, you become less and less effective at what you do. Turns out that the secret to being at your most productive and effective self at your work at home is not in putting in long hours without letup but in getting enough breaks throughout the work day.
According to research, our brain needs to refresh at least every after 90 minutes of work. There are also studies revealing that mental fatigue sets in after a three-hour continuous work. We just simply aren’t wired to focus for 8-hours straight since our brains run on limited juice hence regular refueling via breaks is an absolute prerequisite to productivity.
Before you start hammering away to check your Facebook notifications, sorry to break it but idly scrolling through your newsfeed may not exactly be the best way to make the most out of your precious breaks. The good news is, there are many ways on how you can spend your break time to rev up some energy and improve your brain functioning at home.
We pulled together some suggestions on how you can spend your breaks more effectively
Look away from your screen for 20 seconds
If you are constantly staring at a computer when you are working from home, you can help reduce computer-caused eye strain by following the simple 20-20-20 rule. The rule suggests that every 20 minutes, you have to look away from your computer for 20 seconds and look at something 20 feet away from you. If a mere twenty seconds do not seem enough, proceed with our next tip.
Look out the window and seek green for 40 seconds
A study from the University of Melbourne shows that glancing at a green landscape for a mere 40 second break can boost your concentration and productivity. The research was conducted with a group of participants that were asked to do a boring, attention-sapping task.
Midway through it, they were given a 40-second microbreak where half of the group viewed a flowering meadow roof while the other half looked at bare concrete roof. The experiment revealed that those who had a view of nature performed significantly better on the second half of the task with less errors and more concentration compared to those who just viewed the concrete roof.
The implication of this study is self-explanatory. If you are lucky enough to have greens in your line of sight while working from home, doing something as simple as looking out the window to see nature for less than a minute can help refresh your attention span.
Watch cute cat videos for 10 minutes
Rejoice internet cat lovers! Science backs up that looking at cute kitten memes can benefit your workflow! Yes, you read it right. A 2012 Japanese study reveals that looking at pictures of cute animals has positive effect on your productivity.
Think fluffy puppies, baby pandas and LOLcat posters. The report concludes that harnessing the power of “kawaii” - Japanese word for cuteness, not only makes us happier but also stimulates our behaviour positively. We suggest having Edinburgh’s panda cam on bookmark for your daily fix of cute things.
Be a yogi for 20 minutes
According to a study from the University of Illinois, a quick timeout for yoga can boost your brain functions. In the research, participants were either asked to carry out either a yoga class or an aerobic session. After a cognitive assessment, those who did yoga actually performed better. The mindfulness component of doing mini yoga breaks as a routine not only improves your productivity and focus but also balances your body and clears your mind.
There are easily some good yoga exercises that you can do from your desk at home, even while sitting at a chair. We recommend watching some videos on Youtube for some yoga moves inspiration that you can do on your chair. Stretch away and get the energy flowing again!
Hap a midday nap for 45 minutes
For years, people who doze off on duty get a bad rep for being slackers until recently when there have been scientific evidences pointing to the benefits of midday napping. Rather than fighting off the drowsies with sugar burst or a caffeine fix, take comfort in knowing that it is scientifically-proven healthier to just give in to your urge to your snooze. Benefits such as mental alertness, positive feelings, improved creativity, productivity and overall health are reasons not to feel guilty about napping when and if you need it.
A Harvard study reveals that learning and memory can be improved by five-fold with a 45-minute nap. Taking naps improve our hippocampus, an area in our brain in-charge of storing new information into our long-term memory. Interestingly, even the anticipation of a nap is lowers blood pressure, according to a British study. So if you are feeling tired and sleep -deprived, sneak an eye shut and power through the day- and it's much easier to do when you are working from home!
Eat proper lunch for an hour
When you are working from home, it’s so easy to just grab whatever’s available in the fridge. You also tend to just eat while working at your desk when you’re too engrossed with a project - or worse, skipping the meal altogether. No matter how busy you are with work, don’t skip a midday meal. Food is your fuel and remember that what and how you eat can determine how more or less productive you are for the day.
Multitasking (aka stuffing yourself while working) may seem like a productive strategy, but a recent research about multitasking reveals exactly the opposite. Solely focusing on eating (the right food, mind you) not only nourishes you but also makes you become more efficient with your tasks.
The whole idea of a break is to do anything but work. From now on, make a commitment to take your breaks and the results could surprise you.
Is it not time to take a break yet?
Gardner, Jane. "Glancing at a Grassy Green Roof Significantly Boosts Concentration." The Melbourne Newsroom. The University of Melbourne, 25 May 2015. Web.
Nittono, Hiroshi, Michiko Fukushima, and Akihiro Yano. "The Power of Kawaii : Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus."Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University, 26 Aug. 2012. Web.