Even though taking a break from work seems like something that everybody would want to do, many cogs in the corporate machine choose to forgo breaks in the name of productivity. Oddly enough, this is a counterproductive move, seeing as taking breaks actually makes you more productive by improving your job performance.
This revelation about rest shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, the fact that your body needs sleep in order to recharge, and that your muscles break down after continued use is a fundamental of human biology. Inc explains it like this: “Push yourself through too many hours or days of work and your brain starts to push back.”
In fact, a study shows that the human body reacts to even moderate sleep deprivation by showing signs similar to being drunk on alcohol. The Huffington Post reports that, “After 17 to 19 hours without sleep, performance was equivalent or worse than that of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05 percent. After longer periods without sleep, performance reached levels equivalent to a BAC of 0.1 percent. Most states set their DUI limits at a BAC of 0.08 percent.” Generally speaking, drinking on the job and showing up to work intoxicated is frowned upon. Therefore, why is it accepted (and even celebrated in some over-the-top company cultures) to have workers push themselves beyond their physical limits like this?
Bottom line; you need rest to be your best. To help you with this simple-yet-allusive task, here are four ways that you can fit rest into your busy schedule.
Take Several Short Breaks Throughout the Workday
Pushing yourself to work on a single task for too long causes the quality of your work and your focus to deteriorate over time. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you take small breaks every so often in order to regain focus and perspective. How often you take a break will depend on your stamina and fortitude. To get you started, the Pomodoro technique is a break/work formula that many workers swear by. This technique is where you work in 25-minute intervals followed by five-minute breaks.
Take Full Advantage of Your Vacation Time
Who doesn’t like taking a vacation? Well, according to a 2012 Harris survey, overworked Americans for one. Harris found that the average American leaves nine vacation days on the table per year, choosing instead to spend these days at the office rather than at the beach. Couple this with the fact that the average American worker only gets 10 vacation days per year (compared to several weeks and even months of vacation time workers receive in virtually every other industrialized nation) and it’s easy to see why Americans are so irritable.
Take One Day of Rest Each Week
Six days on and one day off. There’s something to be said about this schedule if Moses thought it important enough to chisel into the 10 commandments. Interestingly enough, the merits of this work schedule holds true today. In a recent study, workaholic executives who were in the habit of working every day, reluctantly agreed to take at least one evening off per week or up to one day. Instead of working, they agreed to spend this time focusing on resting and doing something for themselves. The result: they loved the change and quickly adopted the one-day-off schedule as part of their normal routine.
Take a Nap
Taking a short nap in the middle of the day seems counterproductive, but this too is another effective way to utilize your body’s biological cycle and recharge. To get an idea of how natural it is for humans to nap, look no further than babies and toddlers who require naps, lest they become absolute terrors. Also, while napping may be equated to slacking in English-speaking countries, it’s important to understand that Hispanic cultures have the siesta and Asian cultures encourage naps at work. In fact, in Japan, employers look highly upon employees that nap because they see it as a sign that they’re working themselves to the point where rest is required. Therefore, taking a quick catnap may be an easy way to recharge so you can finish your workday strong.
Have we convinced you of the value of taking breaks and resting? Can you relate to times when you pushed your body and brain too far and experienced disastrous results because of it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.