How Long Should Your Breaks be For Optimum Performance?

Published on 14/09/2019


When you’re at work, doing your best to focus and be productive, do you give much thought to taking a break? 

Most of us think about it, but never actually do it, and instead focusing on attempting to get more done in the time we have.

The problem? Pushing through when you’re about to mentally hit a wall will not help you get more done, if anything it will help you get less done! Taking regular breaks is vital, and contrary to popular opinion, breaks are far from counterproductive! The boost in focus and energy will allow you to get more done than if you’d chosen to sit and try and push through, whilst being far better for your overall health too. 

So, how many breaks should you take, and how long should they be in order to reach optimum performance level?

Your Daily Breaks

Sitting for too long at your office workstations is not good for your health or your focus, but taking regular breaks can alleviate both problems. The HSE recommend that frequent breaks of a shorter duration are far better than having longer periods of time, less often. That means around a 5, or even 10 minutes, break every hour is a good idea. You’re not necessarily going to be able to head off and get a coffee every hour, but you can do something other than sitting at your computer, e.g. get up and walk to the printer. 

You should have between half an hour to an hour for your lunch break and you should definitely get up and move away from your desk, eating your lunch somewhere else entirely. This can be the canteen, or even better, heading outside to get some fresh air. You could incorporate a little exercise into this. Check out the infographic below which outlines the very real health benefits of simply walking. 

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You can incorporate stand height tables into your working routine, which gives you a standing and sitting variation. This is classed as exercise and is ideal for boosting your health and wellbeing, whilst also giving you an extra surge of focus and concentration. 

Try The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is the ideal way to incorporate regular breaks into your working day, giving you the best of both worlds. This means you work solidly for 25 minutes, focusing as much as you can, and then you have a break of 5 minutes. You get up and walk around during this break. Then, you repeat the process. 

This is a great way to give you extra focus, whilst also allowing you to have regular breaks without feeling like you should carry on working through. The promise of a 5 minutes' break is often enough to push you through 25 minutes of solid concentration, and the results have shown this technique to be extremely effective at getting more done in the time you have. 

At the end of the day, that’s what we all want to achieve - we want more hours in the day, but unfortunately, that’s not going to come our way! Instead, we need to find ways which allow us to be more productive, in a healthy way, and regular breaks can allow you to do just that. It might sound like being away from your desk is going to do the total opposite, but in terms of allowing extra oxygen and blood flow to your brain, boosting your concentration, you’re actually investing in the next block of work you’re going to do. 

The biggest no no is being tempted to eat your lunch at your desk. This is something far too many people are guilty of. You’re given a lunch break for a reason - make sure you take it! This means getting up and leaving the office for however long you have, and doing something relaxing with your time!

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