In How Tos

We’ve all had those days where we get to quitting time and realize we haven’t gotten up from our chair for the past 4 hours. Breaks are seen as a luxury in our always-on, high-pressure work culture. Our days are crammed from morning to late into the evening with emails, calls, chats, and tasks.

We all know we need to take breaks to keep our energy levels high. So why can’t we seem to take even just a few minutes away from our desk? A microbreak is any short break you take from your work during the day. This could be anything from standing up to stretch to chatting with a coworker for 2 minutes or even going to grab a coffee.

Despite its sedentary nature, knowledge work is exhausting both physically and mentally. Hours spent sitting at a desk and staring at a screen puts a strain on your eyes, body, and mind. Even worse, focusing for too long on a task can actually ruin your productivity. While focus is important during the workday, too long spent in a focused state can start to backfire. Our mind naturally wanders when our energy levels dip. Our bodies start to crave movement and our attention falters.

Microbreaks impose small interruptions in your focus to ease your body and reboot your brain. Just a few minutes (or less) of distraction can have a disproportionately powerful impact on your productivity. Studies show microbreaks can improve your ability to concentrate, reduce workplace stress, increase your happiness about your job, and even help you avoid common desk injuries. 

Even better, microbreaks can involve pretty much anything from making a cup of tea to walking around the office. In fact, there are only two rules you need to follow: they should be short and voluntary.

If you’d like to start working microbreaks into your day but don’t know where to start, here are a few suggestions.

  • Try the 20/20/20 exercise to reduce eye strain (Every 20 minutes stare at an object at least 20 feet away from you for at least 20 seconds.) 
  • Practice breathing exercises to lower stress
  • Stretch, walk, and move your body to counteract too much sitting
  • Get some fresh air and be in nature
  • Drink more water
  • Watch a funny video

We all work better when we take more breaks No matter how “busy” you think you might be, you’re never too busy for a microbreak. Taking even just a couple minutes to let your body and mind recharge can do wonders for your productivity, focus, and health.

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