Photo: Flickr – filmvanalledag
A lot of companies encourage employees to take short breaks to recharge and boost energy levels throughout the work day. But new research is saying that these “microbreaks” unrelated to work may actually be making you counterproductive.
Charlotte Fritz, an assistant professor in psychology at Portland State University, tells Harvard Business Review that these short breaks — checking up on your family or making personal phone calls — were “sometimes even associated with increased weariness.”
However, when workers took breaks that were related to work — such as brainstorming an idea during lunch or even praising a colleague — they were more likely to be energized afterward.
“The idea seems to be that when you’re in the middle of work, you’ll do better and feel better if you focus just on work.”
This doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t take a walk if they need one, but instead of grabbing coffee or going to lunch and “detaching” from work, workers should unwind, but not actually mentally disconnect while they’re still supposed to be working.
When Fritz looked into vacations, she found that this time off was good for employees’ well-being and health, but that once the vacation was over, the beneficial effects associated with it fade pretty quickly — within two to three weeks.
To get the most out of your vacation days, she says it might be better to take several short vacations throughout the year rather than saving them all up for one, long break.
The study only included workers in standard office jobs, and didn’t include anyone in intense working environments, such as hospital or factory-type positions.
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