Why micro breaks are important for productivity

Posted on Friday, October 28, 2022 by Peter RNo comments

Those in office support jobs in London are often all too familiar with the concept of non-stop working. Spinning multiple plates for hour after hour is often simply part of the way your working life goes. Yet many of us are probably also familiar with things such as the afternoon slump when hours of working without much of a break results in fatigue, lethargy and lower productivity.

Your lunch break is all very well (if you get it), but new research has shown that micro breaks could actually help to reduce your fatigue levels and improve wellbeing. Energy levels rise and productivity gets a boost. So what’s it all about?

What are micro breaks and why are they good?

A micro break is a break of around 10 minutes (but could even be as little as 8 seconds!). Ok, it’s not long enough for you to run an errand longer than a post box sprint, but the change of scene and pace for just ten minutes can really help.

Patricia Albulescu, lead author on the recent study, says that “When taking a short break when we feel the need to, we can notice that new ideas start to flow easily again, or effortlessly can pay attention to what we do.” What’s incredible is that in the study, 64% of those taking micro breaks would score above average for both energy and vigour. The results for performance were actually a little less clear cut overall, but in clerical tasks – like in many office support jobs in London – these breaks proved very effective to boosting accuracy, efficiency and productivity.

So, how can you build micro breaks into your day?

Not so long ago, strangely enough many more of us had micro breaks built more readily into our day. The cigarette break, while deeply unhealthy in many ways, was actually probably a good length to get the benefits we’re talking about! However, we’re definitely not recommending the habit! But it does mean that culturally it’s harder to get these micro breaks that look to be so effective.

Changing the workplace culture is never quick or easy, but there are things you can do.

Taking a short break away from your desk between tasks, or after a certain amount of time could help. Plan, for example, to do some filing between other tasks as a strategic change of scenery and change of process. Intentionally choose to gaze out of the window and focus on your breathing for just a few minutes after sending an email, as a matter of habit. Walk a loop of your office once an hour to improve your energy and focus when you sit back at your desk. Support other colleagues by recognising their need for micro breaks too. You could even skip the lunch break all together and share the minutes out across shorter breaks.

Do you feel like your workplace culture doesn’t even give you the autonomy to do this? If so, there are plenty of employers who recognise that their most productive and efficient employees are those with autonomy and the ability to balance their own working practice. For office support jobs in London that allow you to excel, search our job board

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