Break as a success factor – taking a breather only costs time? A fallacy. Those who interrupt work can often do more. Tips for a quick energy boost
Tear open the window, stick your head out and watch the branches and leaves of the treetop move in the wind: “That’s my little ritual,”. In this way, the psychological psychotherapist ensures a short mental break before the next patient enters his practice.
One of Blanche’s main research areas is how one succeeds in protecting oneself from overload in everyday working life. Breaks play a central role in this. “They take the strain off the body and mind,”. Which measure is good for someone is different. While he likes to look at nature himself, someone else prefers to close his eyes for a moment, gossip with colleagues, or do squats. “The most important thing is to take your breaks,” .
According to the Working Hours Act, employees in this country are even obliged to do so. For six hours or more on the job, they have to take 30 minutes off, and for nine hours, it is 45 minutes. However, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) survey shows that many do not do this: 26 percent of the around 17,000 respondents said they skipped the prescribed breaks. “It is significant that precisely this group reported more frequently about psychosomatic complaints – such as sleep problems, tiredness or irritability,”. “That shows how important it is to keep the breaks.”
Work Less, Do More
Studies from the early days of break research already show that time-outs are worthwhile: In the 1920s, the occupational physician Otto Graf demonstrated that employees performed more, made fewer mistakes, and felt mentally and physically fitter if they took regular breaks – without them, by the way, time to rework.
Work shorter and achieve more? Wesche was also able to confirm this productive effect of breaks in the modern professional world. In 2016, he and his team evaluated almost 160 studies from the last 25 years of break research. Hardly any study found adverse effects. Most of them confirmed that the time-outs had positive results.
Better Often Short Than rarely long
Not only did they improve performance, but they also had an impact on health in particular: mental wellbeing increased, and physical complaints such as musculoskeletal disorders decreased. Other studies also showed that taking breaks reduced the risk of mistakes and accidents.
Where do these effects come from? “The body reduces tiredness during breaks,”. During the day, this increases more and more rapidly. But those who are tired do less and are stressed. Time-outs reverse this effect: They reduce tension, strengthen concentration and motivation. “But those who work hard even tend to work overtime,” found in the studies.
Most of the tiredness is relieved at the beginning of the break. That is why time-outs of around five minutes are already effective. So that tiredness does not increase significantly in the first place, Wendsche advises that it is better to take short breaks more often than seldom long. However, intervals of less than 15 minutes are not legally stipulated for most professions.
“Companies should motivate their employees to take them on,”. There is another reason for this: the employees take their breaks anyway, but undercover. You surf the Internet, look at your cell phone, and tell your colleague about your vacation. “It has been proven that between five and 15 percent of working hours are so-called masked breaks,” says the expert. But this usually only happens when you are already overloaded. More time is needed for recovery.
Creative In The Shower
On the other hand, regularly interrupting work has another advantage: “Studies show that time off often unconsciously leads to problem solving,”. In the resting phases, the brain processes what it has learned and experienced. This could explain, for example, why the best idea sometimes comes to you in the shower or the toilet.
Our Tips To Get Through The Working Day Well:
Structure The Working Day
“Plan your breaks at the start of work – and enter them in the calendar to give them weight,”. The earlier you take a break, the faster fatigue can be relieved. However, if you wait until you are already overloaded, more extended periods of recovery are necessary. “In the home office, you have to be particularly aware of taking time off, as you are not reminded of it by colleagues,”. In addition, many work more intensively at home – and tire more quickly as a result. By the way: Even micro-breaks of a minute are relaxing.
Use High Phases
Many people are more productive in the first half of the day. “It is best not to take the longest break exactly in the middle of the day, but rather slightly backwards – around five hours after starting work,”. You can plan a short break.
The closer you get to the end of work, the more tired you get – and the more often you should take short breaks. That motivates: “If you know that you have to keep up with shorter time frames, you try harder,”
“People are association machines,”. They perceive their surroundings. It is therefore advisable to leave the workplace during the break to avoid stress stimuli. This distinction is often difficult in the home office. “It’s best to study and close the door,”. It is essential to switch off work stimuli, such as closing the screen. Studies show: natural surroundings are particularly relaxing. If you go for a walk in the nearby park during the break, you also get exercise.
Inform About Laws
According to the Working Hours Act, rest breaks of 30 minutes are mandatory for working hours of at least six hours and 45 minutes for nine hours or more. “The breaks can be divided into blocks of at least 15 minutes,”. In many companies, the break time is automatically debited from the time account. It is therefore not worthwhile to do without the breaks. Short breaks of less than 15 minutes are not anchored in law for most professional groups. “The staff representatives can negotiate such additional time-outs with the employer,”.
Do The Opposite
“It is advisable to do the opposite of what you do at work,”. If you sit a lot, you should move. Those who work alone spend time with colleagues. If you constantly look at the screen, put your cell phone aside during the break. What is more important, however, is to do something that pleases you. Wesche: “It depends on what you ascribe to activities.” Instead of meditating, someone else relaxes while washing up. How you fill the break also depends on your current need: Are you thirsty? Need to speak? Or are you just looking for silence?
Put Together Feasible Packages
People feel the need to complete things. “Then it is easier to mentally detach yourself from work,”. But the more complex a task is, the more time it takes. Therefore: “Structure larger projects in subtasks that you can complete.” This also helps to assess your way of working more realistically.