Why taking breaks may be killing your productivity


Everyone takes breaks. You can’t work non-stop for hours on end, you need to clear your mind and renew your energy every so often, don’t you?

Maybe not.

If you’re doing something you don’t want to do, something you have to force yourself to do, taking a break is a viable way to get through the task. That’s the idea behind the “take a break every 20 to 45 minutes” concept. It’s why we use mechanisms like the Pomodoro Technique (setting a timer and working for 25 minutes, for example, followed by a five-minute break) before going back at it.

These techniques and recommendations came about after studies showed that most people lose their ability to focus on a task after 30 minutes. But these studies were based on assigned tasks where the subjects were asked to do something they didn’t particularly want to do.

It’s different when you’re doing something you love.

When you enjoy what you’re doing, you tend to get lost in it and time passes quickly. You get into a state of flow and are able to reach incredible levels of productivity and creativity.

When you’re in a state of flow, why destroy it by taking a break?

It can take as much as 20 minutes to regain focus after a five-minute break. If you take breaks at regular intervals, you may be killing your productivity.

You might think you need breaks to renew your energy but the flow state provides its own energy. When you’re in that state, you might work for several hours without stopping and not feel the least bit fatigued. Gamers often go all day in front of their computers and sometimes have to be pulled away from it by a concerned loved one.

So here’s the thing. If you’re doing something you really don’t want to do you probably won’t get into a flow state and taking scheduled breaks can help you get you through the work. But if you enjoy the work at hand, don’t stop doing it because you’ve been at it for a set period of time. Keep going until you are no longer in flow or the task (segment) is done.

Knowing this means you should probably build some flexibility into your work schedule and allow uninterrupted time for tasks and projects you look forward to doing. Work, not games, okay?

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