Minibreaks: When Not Working Means Working

April 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Earlier this week, we discussed the downside of having those monthly updates. The IT guys coming in, trying to find the right software, getting it installed, and having it work all in the first try is wishful thinking. Productivity end up taking a hit and your time management goes down the drain. But I had left you off with a cliff hanger: given these unproductive moments updates leave us with, how can we turn it to our advantage? The answer is simple: minibreaks.
Wrong kind of productivity minibreak
(Image owned by Kellogg’s)

Long Breaks v. Minibreaks

Minibreaks are exactly what they sound like. They’re short breaks throughout the day in which the body rejuvenates its energy, unburdens its stress, and recuperates its focus to resume work one the minibreak is over. Now the conventional workplace has the concept of “breaks” down, but they utilize it in a large sense, i.e. in your nine to five job, you get one large break, which is your lunch period. To employers, this seems enough to keep employee productivity and motivation up, as it is set in the middle of the day and it recharges your batteries. A study done in 2011, entitled Cognition by Atsunori Ariga and Alejandro Lleras of the University of Illinois (linked here), proved that this simply isn’t true.

Burn in Before You Burn Out

Time outs is time management
Minibreaks are just work time outs
Ariga and Lleras’ work led them to discover that short breaks throughout the day are drastically more beneficial to maintaining focus and employee motivation than a single large burst. The effect of a break quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns, in which the employees are no longer benefiting and are then simply wasting time. Instead, keeping these breaks small and plentiful throughout the day (such as 5 or 10 minutes every hour), is enough to give the brain a momentary rest for it to come back more productive than before. As well, these minibreaks provide time for the subconscious to work on any problem solutions that might be eluding the employee, further hindering their motivation. But that’s for another day.

Where do Updates Come In?

By now, I’m pretty sure you can see how updates can benefit instead of hinder. They are just another minibreak for the employee to take. Instead of stressing about the halt in their time management, it has become a moment for them to pause and recover before resuming their productivity.

Entry filed under: Productivity. Tags: , , , , , .

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