When remote working or work from home, people tend to ignore taking mental breaks between working hours as they spend more time in virtual meetings and should always be available for communication. But what they don’t know is that this will greatly affect their performance. Like muscles, our brain function gradually declines as we work nonstop during the day.
Why is taking a break from work important?
Taking a break from work is essential especially when you’re work from home. It increases one’s productivity, motivates you to finish your task, improves your mental health, and makes you more involved in your work. Detaching yourself from work for a short period of time greatly increases your focus as well as reduces stress, making you more effective at work.
- Increases Productivity: Taking “micro breaks” like going for a cup of coffee, stretching, or even playing with pets can help re-energize and refocus your mind.
- Boosts Creativity: Detaching from work for short periods allows your brain to incubate ideas, making you more creative and effective in problem-solving.
- Prevents Burnout: Working nonstop can lead to burnout. Taking breaks helps you recharge and prevents you from adding extra working hours just to prove your efficiency.
- Promotes Healthy Habits: Taking breaks gives you time to exercise and maintain a healthy diet, which in turn enhances your productivity and creativity.
- Improves Mental Health: Short breaks can also prevent issues like bad posture, obesity, and other health problems related to prolonged sitting.
- Enhances Outdoor Activity: Stepping outside for fresh air and sunlight improves cognitive function and well-being.
- Various Techniques: The article suggests techniques like the Pomodoro Technique, taking 20-minute breaks after 60-120 minutes of work, and power naps to manage time and prevent fatigue.
The Benefits of Taking a Break From Work
Here’s why taking breaks will significantly help a person’s effectiveness remote working or work from home:
According to the study, taking a “micro break” is also a good idea to get the work done impressively. Micro breaks are defined as short, voluntary and impromptu rests in the workday. Microbreaks include:
- Going for a cup of coffee
- Stretching for a bit
- Playing crossword puzzles
- Having a conversation with someone
- Reading books
- Watching short videos
- Playing with your babies / dogs
- Anything that will help you detach from work for a short period of time.
It may be just a brief break, but micro breaks will help us to re-energize and re-focus when we’re working remotely.
Come up with new ideas – Creative problem solving
Taking a break from work will help us to explore new ideas and approaches in solving problems. And this will only come when you are detaching yourself from the work allowing us to produce creative ideas.
When you’re taking a break from work, you are giving your brain time to incubate ideas. Incubation is where you unconsciously think over solutions to the problem using your combined ideas and new knowledge. This makes you more creative.
To some people, the process of incubating ideas are like these:
|Dive deeper into the problem. Learn everything that is available about the subject. Read and watch every bit of information. Think carefully about the problem before making a decision.
There are two types of information you need to gather:
1. Specific information – gather information that is more technical (i.e.: sales, programming, etc.)
|Work with the information
|Using the information you gather, think thoroughly about the problem. Implement trial and error methods in every possible solution and approach
|Forget the problem and do something else
|Catch some air outside and forget the problem. Do something that diverts your attention to the problem. You can wash the dishes, take a shower, walk outside or play some music as long as you are not thinking about the problem. Just keep it simple and don’t try to solve anymore problems.
|Suddenly, an idea will just pop out randomly anywhere or anytime when you least expected it. It’s best to bring notebooks and a pen for a moment like this.
|When you have the idea, list them by a series of tasks. Make the tasks as straightforward as possible.
Remember to rest and reset your mind if you run out of ideas. We cannot force an idea to come out. Switching off from your work for a while will help you think of new approaches and be creative when facing problems when working remotely.
Taking a break from work also helps you to prevent burnout. As employees were working remotely or home working during the pandemic, some managers don’t trust their employees much if they did their job when working at home. As a result, people who work from home have a tendency to add extra working hours or to work nonstop, avoiding breaks just to show that they are efficiently working and this will result of being burnout. According to a recent survey, 86% of people who work from home have experienced burnout compared to those people who work in an office. Additionally, a research from expressvpn stated that employees feel pressure to work longer hours in general since they started working remotely or work from home.
Unlike a regular office, you would naturally step away from the desk to get some coffee or to talk to a colleague for a short time. With working from home, you can easily ignore breaks and just work nonstop. Here are things that you need to do everyday to avoid being burnt out:
- Recharge yourself – You can go on a walk for 20 to 30 minutes anytime during the day. It helps us re-adjust our work-life balance
- List your to-do task for the day – The only way to fight burnout is to create manageable goals. It’s best practice if you set a list of goals to finish within the day before you start working. These goals can be anything from arranging your bed, cleaning your desk to work-related tasks. Creating a list helps us focus on the goal, prevent anxiety and become energized as you get a sense of satisfaction when you complete the tasks.
- Tackle and learn new skills – Employees can also be burnout if they think they aren’t doing enough impactful work in the company. That is why it’s important for employers or HR to create an environment where employees can grow their career and learn new skills. By providing training, employees feel that they are needed in the company and that their opinion matters.
Taking a break from work – Implore healthy life habits
Remote work or Working from home nonstop can lead to a stressful life and it may affect your overall health in the long run. That is why taking breaks is important when we’re working from home as we have the time to exercise and cook some healthy meals. By exercising regularly and having a healthy meal, we can get the right amount of hours of sleep needed by our body. As a result, we will have a healthy environment for us to increase creativity and productivity.
Taking a mental break from work and doing exercise can also help prevent bad posture. Bad posture is caused by sitting for prolonged hours. As a result, your muscles will become weak because you don’t use them in your daily activity, which will have short- and long-term effects on your body such as:
- Weak glutes and legs
- Tight hips
- Lower back problems
- Heart Disease
- Stiffed neck and shoulders
Taking a mental health break from work
Get some fresh air outside
When you are working from home, we forget to go outside because we are busy with all the tasks. Though micro breaks or exercising at home helps with our productivity, it is also a vital element for us to go outside and get some fresh air when we want to boost our productivity.
Getting some fresh air is essential for the brain. According to research, walking outside improves brain cognitive function, concentration, memory, and well-being. In addition, you are exposed to sunlight, which is the main source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a vital role in every organ, especially with the brain function.
Taking a 30-minute break and walking outside daily is essential when you want to boost your productivity while working from home.
When you are working from home, taking micro breaks is also essential to be effective at your work. Microbreaks are a short rest in between your working hours which will help you to re-focus on your work. Microbreaks can last from 2 mins to 5 mins. It can be stretching, staring outside for a minute, making a coffee, or just talking to a person for a short while.
Another technique that will make you effective when working from home is the Pomodoro technique. This is a time management technique that requires a person to work nonstop for 25 mins, then do a 5-minute break afterwards.
The concept of this technique is that, when your timer starts, it gives you a sense of urgency rather than having the feeling like you’re working nonstop, leading to burnout. A lot of mobile applications have been developed that can help you implement this technique successfully. This system will help people from being fatigued and burnt-out at the end of the day.
Take 20 minutes break
The concept here is you have to work for 60 to 120 minutes, then take a 20-minute break. This idea is also useful because it keeps you in your momentum when working from home. This may be different from the Pomodoro technique, but a lot of people also prefer to apply this method as they can actually complete the tasks by keeping in the momentum.
Power naps can help you battle fatigue and give you mental awareness. This is super helpful when you’re taking a mental health break from work. You can do a post lunch nap when you are working from home. The ideal time for having a power nap would be between 12:30pm to 2pm. Within that timeframe, you can take a nap for 10 – 20 mins if you want to be productive.
While you are working from home, be sure to remember that you should take a break to keep you energised and motivated. It also helps your brain to generate creative ideas and create solutions that will be good for you and the company.
As a dedicated mother and passionate software developer, she weaves her diverse experiences into captivating stories that inspire and engage readers. Emma's love for sustainable living and environmental consciousness permeates both her personal and professional life. When she's not immersed in the world of coding and software development, Emma can be found nurturing her family and tending to her thriving organic garden. Her commitment to sustainable practices extends to every aspect of her life, from repurposing household items to embracing eco-friendly technologies.