16 productivity-boosting activities for your break
So you’ve realized the importance of breaks and added them into your day—hooray! Now: How to spend your well-deserved break? Here are a few suggestions, each with proven benefits!
Take a walk
A 20-minute stroll can increase blood flow to the brain, which can boost creative thought. Regular walks can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits, combat age-related declines in brain function and improve memory and cognitive performance.
Daydreaming “leads to creativity, and creative activities teach us agency, the ability to change the world, to mold it to our liking, to have a positive effect on our environment.”
Replenish your brain with a snack–here’s a look at some brain- and productivity-nourishing foods to grab.
Read a (non-work) book–especially fiction. Studies have shown that individuals who frequently read fiction are better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective.
Get a coffee
OK, you probably already thought of this break option. But are you timing your coffee breaks correctly? For people who wake up between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., the optimal times for consuming caffeine fall somewhere around 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Let your mind wander as you put pen to paper for some creative free time. Research shows that doodling can stimulate new ideas and help us stay focused.
Look at adorable animal photos
In one awesome study, participants performed better on a variety of tasks after looking at baby animal photos. Only baby animals will do the trick here–full-grown animal pics didn’t have the same effect.
Listen to music
Focusing on music can significantly improve our motor and reasoning skills, and it has a variety of health benefits as well.
If your workplace is super progressive, you can enjoy tons of benefits from even the tiniest midday nap. A nap of even 10 minutes has been shown to improve cognitive function and decrease sleepiness and fatigue.
When pilots were given a nap of 30 minutes on long flights, there was a 16 percent improvement in their reaction time. (Pilots who didn’t nap saw a a 34 percent decrease over the course of the flight.)
We’re big believers in naps at Buffer–you can catch a glimpse of the bunk beds for napping in Buffer’s office in this photo of Buffer founder Joel:
Exercise can make you happier, give you more energy and help you gain focus. You can pack in a decent workout in under 10 minutes, and switching to a different kind of task give yours mind needed rest. Try the 7-minute workout, for example.
Talk to friends or coworkers
Yup, even hanging out with coworkers for a bit is a productive break! Research shows that talking with colleagues can increase your productivity. In a study of call center workers, those who talked to more co-workers were getting through calls faster, felt less stressed and had the same approval ratings as their peers.
One of the most powerful ways to relax your brain in a short amount of time is a session of meditation. In the image below you can see how the beta waves (shown in bright colors on the left) are dramatically reduced during meditation (on the right).
Meditation lowers stress levels and improves overall health as well as creativity. (We’ve got a virtual meditation room at Buffer).
Plan something fun
Like a future trip or vacation. Research shows that anticipating a trip often makes people happier than the trip itself.
Go outside and see some nature
On a nice day, spend some time outside during your break–and try to find more natural and less urban settings. Spending time in nature is good for your immune system and has been shown to improve focus and relieve stress.
Exercise your eyes
Especially if you look at a screen most of the day, your eyes could use a break. Use the 20-20-20rule: Every 20 minutes, take a break for at least 20 seconds and look at objects that are 20 feet away from you.
Mess around online
That’s right; go ahead and check your Facebook account or take that Buzzfeed quiz. Studies have shown that goofing off online for a few minutes can be just as productive a break as any other (and better than texting or sending emails) when it comes to refreshing your brain.
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