Micro breaks – Text for reading comprehension
Micro breaks or simply distractions?
It’s time to call it a day. You’ve nearly finished your to do list. Then, you realise that you haven’t left your desk for the last three hours. What about lunch today? You skipped that again, too. And that email this afternoon took twice as long to write as the email this morning. You’ve got eye strain and a stiff upper back. Time to knock off and go home.
Nowadays, our work life is crammed from morning to evening with tasks, emails, meetings, phone calls and chats. The pressure is high and time is short. There’s usually even very little time for lunch. In fact, a substantial number of professionals go either without lunch or practise desktop-dining, where they eat lunch at their desks, usually solo. In the 1987 movie “Wall Street”, Gordon Gekko says, “Lunch is for wimps.” But is it?
Consider also all those minute breaks during the day, which interrupt your work concentration. Those so- called time-out moments whether a chat with a colleague at the vending machine, or a quick scroll through Instagram, or those countless stares out of the window into the endless sky above – even for a split second. However, apparently, these short frequent breaks are extremely beneficial. They’re called micro breaks, and in fact, they’re just as beneficial as long breaks if not more.
Micro breaks can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, and they have a powerful impact on your productivity. They can improve your ability to concentrate, prevent muscular fatigue and make you feel more positive about your job. Stanford University actually recommends taking a micro break from repetitive activity every 20 minutes.
But, aren’t breaks of any kind just a distraction? A way of sabotaging your concentration? Not at all. According to researchers, focussing on one single task or non-moving object for too long, can make it disappear from your awareness. This is called Troxler’s fading, an optical illusion which affects your visual perception. After a long period of concentration, your attention starts to falter and your brain cries out for change and movement.
Micro breaks are those small pauses that give your mind a break, relax your aching body and refresh your brain. They recharge you with energy, and they prevent the task in front of you from disappearing. After a micro break, all systems are rebooted and ready to go again afresh.
So, how about scheduling a few micro breaks into your day? If you don’t know where to start, here are a few suggestions:
- The 20/10/20 method
To avoid eye strain and relieve back pain, every 20 minutes stare at an object at least 10m away for 20 seconds.
Practise simple breathing exercises to reduce stress. Breathe in for 2 seconds, hold and breathe out for 4 seconds. You can extend this if you want to, but make sure you exhale longer than you inhale.
- Drink more water
Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning can substantially improve your productivity during the day.
- Stand up and walk around
Don’t email a colleague, get up and go to them. Use the toilets on the next floor. Get up and get a coffee from the next building. Walk the meeting. Walk the talk.
Most importantly, don’t forget to plan micro breaks into your daily schedule. Don’t ever use the excuse that you’re too busy for a micro break. Those few minutes spread throughout the day, will work wonders on your motivation, performance and health.