Everybody knows that feeling of having too much on your plate at work that it’s hard to know where to start. In times of such stress, many people will attempt to simply work through the tasks back to back, without so much as stopping to sip on a coffee.
While this strategy might work for a day or two, it ultimately will only cause a worker to burn out.
Here’s how those simple coffee breaks and quick walks outside can drastically improve your workplace (and why you shouldn’t ignore them!).
Focus on your focus
The mind is made to wander. If you’re focusing intensely on the same task for hours on end, you may be much better off to stop and take breaks to maintain your high level of focus, according to a 2011 study.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign published an article in the ‘Cognition’ journal with their findings that when you take a break and come back to a task, you are better able to focus on it afterwards. They likened it to when you grow accustomed to a sense (such as a bad smell) after a time, but can instantly smell it again after you have left the area and returned again.
Remember your destination
When you’re in the middle of a large project, it’s easy to forget the overall goal of all the hard work you’re doing. You become so caught up in ticking off all the to-dos that make up a larger job, that you soon lose sight of that larger job.
By giving yourself a break to get some exercise, catch up with a friend, or simply let your mind relax, you’re offering yourself a chance to remember and reflect on what you’re really working towards. Not only will this help you focus on the priorities amongst those smaller to-do lists, but it can also give you a boost in remembering why you’re pushing yourself to get through it all.
Boost work happiness
Work-related stress is a growing concern around the world as more and more people come in earlier, leave later, and take fewer breaks.
According to a 2014 study from Staples, two-thirds of workers spend more than eight hours a day at work, and more than a quarter only take a lunch break during the day. This same study also found that 59 per cent of respondents believed more work breaks would improve their happiness on the job, and 43 per cent said it would improve their overall happiness in their own lives.
There are countless studies on how happy workers are more productive, more engaged, and all around better to work with.
If all it takes for an employee to have more focus, a better understanding of the end goal, and higher levels of happiness within a workplace, it seems clear that managers should make breaks a top priority in the culture of their own teams.