Do your employees take their breaks at work?
Are they too busy to take a break?
Below are the 3 scientific reasons why you and your healthcare clinic will benefit when your employees take a break;
- Breaks keep us from getting bored and thus, unfocused
When you’re really in the groove of a task or project, the ideas are flowing and you feel great. But it doesn’t last forever, stretch yourself just a bit beyond that productivity zone and you might feel unfocused, zoned out or even irritable. What changes?
Basically, the human brain just wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it these days. Our brains are vigilant all the time because they evolved to detect tons of different changes to ensure our very survival. So focusing so hard on one thing for a long time isn’t something we’re ever going to be great at.
The good news is that the fix for this unfocused condition is simple, all we need is a brief interruption (aka a break) to get back on track. University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras explains:
“…Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused,” he said. “From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks, it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”
- Breaks help us retain information and make connections
Our brains have two modes: the “focused mode,” which we use when we’re doing things like learning something new, writing or working, and “diffuse mode,” which is our more relaxed, daydream mode when we’re not thinking so hard. You might think that the focused mode is the one to optimise for more productivity, but diffuse mode plays a big role, too.
In fact, although our brains were once thought to go dormant when we daydreamed, studies have shown that activity in many brain regions increases when our minds wander.
Some studies have shown that the mind solves its stickiest problems while daydreaming, something you may have experienced while driving or taking a shower. Breakthroughs that seem to come out of nowhere are often the product of diffuse mode thinking.
That’s because the relaxation associated with daydream mode “can allow the brain to hook up and return valuable insights.”
- Breaks help us re-evaluate our goals
The Harvard Business Review examines another prime benefit of breaks: they allow us to take a step back and make sure we’re accomplishing the right things in the right way.
When you work on a task continuously, it’s easy to lose focus and get lost in the weeds. In contrast, following a brief intermission, picking up where you left off forces you to take a few seconds to think globally about what you’re ultimately trying to achieve. It’s a practice that encourages us to stay mindful of our objectives…
How to stop feeling guilt about breaks
OK, so we know taking breaks is a scientifically proven method for regaining our focus, sharpness and motivation. But taking a walk or a reading break in the middle of a workday? Can we really get over how guilty that’ll make us feel?
It’s become normal to think that if you never take a break from work, you’ll get more done, get promoted and be more successful. When demand in our lives intensifies, we tend to ‘get stuck in’ and push harder. The trouble is that, without any downtime to refresh and recharge, we’re less efficient, make more mistakes, and get less engaged with what we’re doing.