Your office job is likely to entail up to nine hours sat at your desk, with a break or two slotted in to your day to eat your lovingly-prepared lunch and go to the bathroom. You’ll likely schedule your lunch break at around midday, a third or halfway through your working day so it’s even; yet in the first chunk of working, that final hour leading up to lunch has your stomach rumbling and productivity decreasing as you watch the clock.

This is the standard at most offices, in where you’re entitled to one or two (three at a push) breaks per day in-between continuously working at your desk or being in meetings. But what if we told you that you should take breaks more often?  The New York Times reports that both a university professor and doctor believe that ‘the work should break up the break’ and not the other way around; a doctor and professor- intelligent people, so I’ll happily take their word for it…

So, why should we take more breaks throughout the day? Working continuously for a long period of time can be exhausting and stressful, and so Professor Trougakos, an assistant management professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough, advises to take a break ‘before reaching the absolute bottom of your mental barrel’ (great metaphor).

If you’re starting to feel uninspired, the pace of your work slows or you simply feel like you need a refresh, take a break. “Symptoms of needing time to recharge include drifting and daydreaming,” according to Prof. Trougakos.

He continues in comparing mental concentration to muscle, and how both become fatigued after sustained use; muscles need a rest period to recover before continuing working, much like the brain.

Dr James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, backs the idea of more breaks, advising to work in 15-minute bursts, with short breaks in-between. For some, they may be able to work productively for more than the short duration that is 15 minutes, in which case, take advantage of your productive mind-set and continue; “There is no need to take a break if you’re on a roll” continues Trougakos - it’s down to individual working preferences and concentration capacity.

Dr Levine explains that “the thought process is not designed to be continuous, long hours don’t mean good work - highly efficient, productive work is more valuable”, and this productive work is achieved by taking frequent breaks.

Of course, don’t take this article as an excuse to procrastinate all day long, because that won’t be any good for your own progress, and will likely cause your boss to raise his eyebrows disapprovingly as you spend your third consecutive hour in the staff canteen. Take breaks only when needed to boost energy and efficiency; “Anything at an extreme level,” Trougakos says, “is not going to be good.”

Ultimately, it does depend on the individual, as some thrive from working for an extended period; it’s the forcing yourself to work through the exhaustion that drains the energy and productivity from you.  So, if your head is feeling a bit fuzzy after an hour of staring at your screen, go for a walk, go have a 10 minute coffee break, or have a 20 minute snooze in a sleep pod; you’ll likely be significantly more productive when you return to your desk than if you didn’t. 

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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