Techniques for Taking Breaks
Not all breaks are created equally.
When is best to take a break? How long should you take a break for? Good news, science has the answer!
There are three techniques that stand out that you can implement today to become a more productive, effective, healthy and successful version of yourself - hurray for breaks! So let’s jump in.
Doesn’t pomodoro mean tomato? Yes, it does and it also refers to a popular method of taking breaks. In short, it means working for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break (and a solid 15 minute break once every two hours). This method is a dynamic one and it’s important to use the break to its fullest capacity. At work? This means stepping away from your desk, and engaging in something completely different. Maybe grab a coffee or chat to a colleague.
As humans, we have a daily rhythm called circadian rhythm (a 24 hour cycle) that our other bodily processes like sleep tie in to. Within this rhythm, we have mini cycles called ultradian cycle/rhythms and these last 1.5 hours (or 90 minutes). So working within this, we should be starting our productive session every 90 minutes and it’s up to us how long the break lasts. Ie. You could work for 75 minutes and have a break for 15.
Researchers have found that the most productive way of taking a break is working for 52 minutes and taking a 17 minute break - wahoo!
As humans we work in bursts (remember that ultradian rhythm we talked about?) so when we take a proper break in our ‘lull’ when we start to feel tired or disengage from the task at hand, we can return to the task full of energy and raring to go again.
17 minute is a dream! As this is a little longer than the pomodoro technique, it means we have more options for what we do in our break.
Which one to pick?
This is entirely up to you. You could mix and match depending on what your day looks like or plan to stick with one for the first three days and see how you get on.