Common sense suggests that taking breaks would mean getting less done. But that's not what science shows. Study after study confirms that the boost in productivity you get after taking a rest more than makes up for the minutes you lose kicking back and relaxing.
Once you accept this truth, you're faced with an important question -- exactly what kind of breaks should you take and when? Plenty of experts have weighed in on this question, recommending everything from midday tree climbing (really) to the odd-sounding 52-17 Rule. Recently on Forge, time use expert Laura Vanderkam offered her own answer for you to try.
Her prescription doesn't require climbing gear or a stopwatch. All you need to do to maximize your productivity is make sure you take three kinds of breaks every day.
No shock here. You could be severely injured if the towering stack of studies showing the benefits of exercise on your physical and mental health toppled over on you. Vanderkam, like every other sensible person out there, urges knowledge workers to get off their butts at least once a day.
"This might include a walk around the block, walking the dog, going for a run, doing a workout video, jumping rope, doing some kettlebell exercises, or hustling up and down the stairs," she writes.
This one might be less obvious, but with our current social isolation it's more important than ever. "This could involve grabbing coffee with a colleague (or FaceTiming over a cup of coffee if you're working virtually), having lunch with your partner and kids if they're around, or calling a friend or family member you want to catch up with," Vanderkam says.
Research shows that social connection is one of the best stress busters out there, and that it lifts our mood even when we initially feel reluctant to connect with others.
This is the kind of break you're least likely to already be taking, but Vanderkam suggests you add it to your routine.
"A spiritual break is a little less intuitive, but in this context I mean anything affecting the human spirit or soul. Plenty of soulful activities can fit just fine into a workday: praying, meditating, reading spiritual texts or devotionals, listening to uplifting music, looking at something beautiful, or doing anything that connects you to something larger than yourself," she explains.
This isn't woo-woo nonsense. Once again, science says even small doses of feeling plugged into something bigger than ourselves offers real benefits.
When should you plan each of these breaks exactly? Check out Vanderkam's complete post for her recommended timetable.