To Increase Focus, Try Scheduled Breaks

Gray Alarm Clock Displaying 10:11

Through my own experiences, I’ve found that scheduling breaks for myself increases my focus and productivity. I was also able to think of more solutions, so I thought I might find out all of the benefits of scheduled breaks and share them with you! 😃

1. Increased creativity

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In the Harvard Business Review, Jackson Lu, Modupe Akinola, and Malia Mason asked hundreds of people that they’re asked to solve two problems requiring creative thinking on a Friday afternoon before leaving work, would they (1) “spend the first half of [their] time attempting the first problem and the second half of [their] time attempting the second”, (2) “alternate between the two problems at a regular, predetermined interval (e.g., switching every five minutes)”, or (3) “switch between the problems at [their] own discretion”.

While the third option was the most popular choice, Lu, Akinola, and Mason found that when trying to come up with creative solutions, the second option is more optimal. It’s because “we often reach a dead end without realizing it”, and taking regular breaks “can reset your thinking, enabling you to approach each tasks from fresh angles.”

2. Stay on schedule

Weekly Planner Being Filled in on iPad Pro with Apple Pencil
Photo by Jess Watters from Pexels

Dr. James A. Levine is a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and told The New York Times (NYT) that those who do not take breaks throughout the day are “impairing their health.” Everyone is different when it comes to how long they can concentrate and be productive on a task in a given sitting.

While long hours seem to be more effective, they’re not as efficient, and longer hours doesn’t necessarily correlate to better work. Regular breaks can be more productive, so when working on a task or assignment, it can help stay on schedule.

3. Increased focus and productivity

Woman in Glasses, Focused at a Meeting
Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

As Dr. Levine had said in the NYT article, breaks increase your productivity. As Courtney Seiter wrote in her article, “breaks keep us from getting bored (and thus, unfocused)”, and when taking breaks, we can “reset” our thinking, as Lu, Akinola, and Mason from the Harvard Business Review had mentioned. When our brain resets, it’s easier to take on our problems and tasks from new perspectives.

While taking regular breaks to stay on schedule and increase creativity, focus, and productivity sounds as good as it is, be careful not to take it to an extreme – too many breaks isn’t effective either.

The next time you’re scheduling your day, don’t forget to put in those regular breaks – not just the one you put in for lunch! 😉

Harvard Business Review (Article)

The New York Times (Article)

Buffer (Article)

Cover Photo: Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash