All that work piling up on your desk might seem intimidating. But don’t let it coax you into staring at your screen in perpetuity.
While the hard worker in us might want to keep hammering away at projects all day long, science says that if we want to be most productive, we’ve got to take breaks: According to a recent study, the most effective and successful workers work hard for 52 minutes then slack off for 17 minutes, repeating the process.
When you stop to think about those numbers, they make sense. We’ve all put in excruciatingly long days at some point in our careers. Eventually, during these “workathons,” the fact that we’re human catches up with us. Over time, our brains become slower and our work becomes sloppier for a simple reason: We’re tired.
To be the best worker you can be, you’ve got to take breaks. Here’s why:
- You’ll have better ideas. You can’t think clearly when you’re focused on nothing but your work. By taking some time to step away and relax, you’ll benefit from a clearer mind that will enhance your problem-solving abilities. When we’re relaxed, we have higher levels of dopamine—a neurotransmitter associated with creativity. You might strike your eureka moment when you least expect it.
- You’ll get rid of stress. According to a recent survey, four out of every five Americans say they’re stressed at work. If you find yourself in that category, chances are you won’t be able to unwind by jumping into the next project. Now that the weather’s nicer, why not go for a walk?
- You’ll have a life. There are many important things outside of work. To be a well-rounded individual and therefore a more successful professional—you need time to pursue your hobbies, travel and attend social functions with family and friends. Don’t forget what they about all work and no play.
If you’ve got work that needs to be done, by all means go do it. But if you find yourself staring at your screen all day and forgetting what fresh air feels like, it’s probably time to start scheduling breaks in your workflow. Your future self thanks you.