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Chatting with a co-worker, making a cup of coffee or putting in a load of washing may seem like procrastination, but it can be beneficial. Read our article to learn what microbreaking is, why it differs from procrastination and how to practise it effectively.
Being glued to your screen is not necessarily the best strategy for productivity, and taking a breather now and then can help you to bounce back from fatigue and disengagement during work.
Microbreaks are short intervals you take from work throughout the day. It could involve anything from standing up to stretch, doing some desk exercises, making a cup of coffee, chatting to a colleague or refilling your water bottle.
Microbreaks vs. procrastination
Microbreaks aren’t procrastination. The difference is that microbreaks can help you to recharge. And unlike procrastination, which can cause you to put off or avoid a task, microbreaks can help you to produce better work.
What’s more, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology reveals that microbreaks can help workers to be more engaged and maintain their energy levels throughout a working day.
They’re so effective because they enable a process called ‘psychological detachment’, where you’re able to mentally disengage from work, allowing your brain to rest.
Microbreaks can also help you to:
- prevent fatigue and burnout
- manage your energy levels
- cope with the strain of sitting in one position all day
Examples of microbreaks
Considering COVID-19 regulations, some good options for microbreaking during work include:
- watching a short funny video
- getting up to make or buy a cup of coffee
- updating your diary with key events
- catching up with someone over text or video call
- putting in a load of washing
- stepping outside for some air
How to use microbreaks effectively
Schedule them. Add time to your daily calendar to take microbreaks. You can choose different times using phone alerts or an app such as Stretch Reminder to prompt you.
Take a break when you’re distracted. You won’t be truly productive if you aren’t focused. Whenever you’re feeling distracted, use it as your cue to take a microbreak. This could be as simple as stretching your legs.
Try the Pomodoro Technique, a time-management strategy where you work in blocks of 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. An app like Tide can help you with this.
Learn to normalise it. There’s no reason to feel guilty for taking microbreaks since they will help you work more effectively.
For more work-related advice, read these helpful articles:
The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.
- Cohen, A. (2021). Are You ‘Micro-breaking’ Enough at Work? [online] Fast Company. Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/90616081/are-you-micro-breaking-enough-at-work [Accessed 8 April 2021]
- Mackay, J. (2019). This Is Why You Need to Take Microbreaks (and How to Do It Properly). [online] Fast Company. Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/90407322/this-is-why-you-need-to-take-microbreaks-and-how-to-do-it-properly [Accessed 8 April 2021]
- Robinson, B. (2021). The Surprising Benefits of ‘Microbreaks’ for Engagement, Productivity and Career Success. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2021/03/28/the-surprising-benefits-of-microbreaks-for-engagement-productivity-and-career-success/?sh=9b296697150a [Accessed 8 April 2021]
- Shipman, M. (2021). ‘Microbreaks’ Keep You More Engaged on Tough Work Days. [online] Futurity. Available at:
https://www.futurity.org/breaks-work-microbreaks-engagement-focus-2532972/#:~:text=Microbreaks%20are%20short%2C%20voluntary%2C%20and,respites%20in%20the%20work%20day.&text=Our%20study%20shows%20that%20it,their%20work%20throughout%20the%20day.%E2%80%9D [Accessed 8 April 2021]