231 - 7 Strategies to Maximize a Break Without Losing Focus
Welcome back. It's savvy psychologist, I'm Dr Ellen Hendrickson. And as always I'll healthy meat. Life's challenges with evidence based research a sympathetic ear and zero judgment. Everybody needs a break and two great inventions that speak to that need are the weekend. And the vacation both of which have distinct beginning and end but break in the middle of the workday is a more elusive challenge because deadlines demanding bosses guilt and sheer workload often make us power through we eat lunch while catching up on Email and consider a walk to the bathroom a luxury on the other hand, even if we value and prioritize breaks, sometimes they go off the rails unintentionally shape, shifting into a momentum killing two our rabbit hole of online shopping one more round of snake versus block or BuzzFeed quizzes anyone for a round of we can guess your color based on the trip. If you plan to Michigan anyone either way stopping to stare out the window or wander the halls at work may seem lazy guilty do seen willpower taxing or logistically impossible, however done right breaks can boost focus. Recharge your batteries and make you more productive. Not to mention happier. So should be meditate knockout, some burpee watch the latest SNL cold open stare out the window pester Q mate, or none of the above. How to do it? Right. Well, this week here are seven ways to make those few minutes really count. Tip number one is the basics any break is better than no break. So for anyone who so over scheduled that lunch consists of wolfing down a protein bar in a bathroom stall. Let's make it clear that taking a brake any brake is better than power in through a study in applied cognitive psychology. Ran a head to head comparison of five different kinds of breaks. Everyone was asked to focus on a task that required sustained attention for forty five minutes and in the middle. Participants took a five minute break to play on their phone. Sit in silence, listen to a cold place on watch a cold play video because apparently even researchers crush on Chris Martin or choose between the song and the video and compared to the group that took no break at all performance was better in every single one of the break conditions, and this makes sense after all hell, much productivity. You realist get out of that fifth straight. Our of studying. For your calculus exam taking a break. Whether it's quiet or loud, mindless remindful is better than nothing tip number to make your break different than your work. Everyone has that coworker. Who's Cologne makes your eyes water? But even though you can smell the drac hard war before he enters a conference room. He has no idea. Why? Well, it's a trick of the brain called habituation just like folks who live next two busy streets. Stop hearing the traffic or you tune now notifications because your phone pins all day long. We all tend to screen out sustained stimuli, and researchers from the university of Illinois hypothesize that even when we're actively attending to stimuli like a work project or other tasks they dub cognitive goals, we still habituate as time goes by making task unrelated thoughts, aka distractions more active, therefore, the researchers proposed that quote deactivating cognitive goal. In other words. Taking a break can keep habituation from occurring. And after the break the goal can be reactivated therefore for your break. Do something one hundred eighty degrees different than what you were doing. So for those of us who stare at a screen all day that rules out taking a break by staring at your phone. So instead doing something physical like a few jumping jacks going for a walk to pick up lunch at the type place down the street or strolling across the building to rehash the bachelor with jasmine from HR will benefit you more than playing love balls on your phone, again, love balls is better than no break at all tip number three counter-intuitively take breaks that keep you in work mindset. Okay. So we've talked about productive procrastination on the podcast before like unloading the dishwasher getting your insta- cart shopping done or catching up on that nonfiction book. You've been meaning to read it feels like you're getting something done, even if it's not the big thing with the looming deadline that you're. Supposed to be working on now productive procrastination may be full of pitfalls. But the very same types of tasks productive, but easy like sorted in the mail or searching online for plane tickets can be perfect for taking a break productive tasks that don't require much brainpower, but still provide contrast to your work can downshift your ears without taking you out of a work mindset. Now back in tip. Number two. We talked about making your break contrast with your work, but an activity that contrast with your work ethic, virtually guarantees, you'll still be watching honest trailers on YouTube Forty-five minutes later, therefore test outbreaks that don't break your productivity momentum walk across the hall to chat with your co worker about a project, reschedule your dentist appointment, or if you work from home throw a load of laundry into the machine. Annalong gourmet cookware can bring your inspiration to life on the dinner table. Whether you're gourmet cook or bake off or the Baker. They've got you covered. 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So now tip number four take a micro break a break doesn't have to be elaborate or lengthy, especially if you're trying not to break momentum and under a minute, micro break might be just what you need and the bonus they can actually be effective. Researchers from the university of Melbourne asked participants to complete a tedious task that required close attention, specifically pressing a computer key when any numerical digit except three appeared on their computer screen in the middle of the task half. The participants were shown a picture of a building with a bare concrete roof for just forty seconds while the other half or shown a picture of flowering green roof for forty seconds. Now, those who saw the green roof made significantly fewer mistakes on their subsequent task providing shout for both micro breaks and for green city, Bruce. So even under a minute of staring out the window. It turns out can be good for your productivy. Vity? Tip number five trade the mid afternoon slump for a morning break. Now, most of us had for Starbucks or catch up on Colbert monologues during the three PM mid afternoon slump. But a study out of the journal of applied psychology found that a break in the morning was more productive. Why? Well, essentially by three PM, it's too late. You're already drained and are good only for brainless administrative tasks or cleaning out your Email inbox. But in the morning, you can still regain your nine AM levels of focus after a rejuvenating break. Many of us focus better in the morning. So extend your peak productivity by taking a break around ten or eleven. Tip number six. Don't break flow as great as breaks. Are you don't need to follow your pummeled awro timer? Slavishly? If your work seems to be doing itself, your ideas or flow in as fast as your adrenaline or if you're so absorbed you've lost track of time rock on don't take a break. Just because you think you should because the dirty secret about breaks is that it can be hard to get your Mojo back. So if you're happily chugging along there's no need to step on the breaks tip number seven. But when it's time to rest rest like you mean, it after your work is over rest like you mean, it if your workweek keeps you tethered to Email dare to leave it behind on the weekend, or at least until Sunday night, use evenings and weekends to put away your to do list do activities that take you out and away from work completely and see your friends and family. So here's another way to think about it be inspired by your cat or dog when they. Rest they rest full on. They don't check Twitter or think about Monday morning. They find a sunny spot and rest, like it's the only thing on the agenda because it is to wrap it all up rather than stressing over what kind of break to take or what interval to follow the twenty five minutes on five minutes off of the Pomodoro method. The fifty two on seventeen off the desk time method. Do what works for your style and circumstances. So in short go ahead and the kit Kat jingle to yourself as you take a walk around the block gush about the great British bake off with Allen from accounting. Stay productive by making a grocery list. Or of course, listen to play no matter what you do. You'll be glad you took a break. Thank you for making savvy psychologist part of your life. We are trying something new here at the show. And now you can call the savvy psychologist voicemail line at eight five seven five two nine five six five zero. You can request an episode topic leave a comment or just tell us why you love the show. So give us a call. I'd love to hear from you. And you could hear your voice on a future episode. That's eight five seven five two nine five six five zero sevi- psychologist is audio engineered by Steve Ricky Burg and a big welcome back to editor extraordinaire be out of San Torah as always sevi- psychologist is strictly for informational purposes and doesn't substitute for mental health care from licensed professional. Thank you so much for listening, and I will see you next week for a happier, healthier mind.