When you have a big project looming, the best strategy sometimes seems to be to buckle down and work work work until the thing is done. Many of us opt to eat ‘al desko’ when the pressure is on, however, as you may know, this is, according to scientists who study productivity, really counterproductive.
Instead of enabling our productivity to flow and thus, allowing us to reach our full potential creatively, working solidly for hours on end just yields tiredness. Numerous studies have told us the importance of taking regular breaks throughout the working day. Breaks help you stay focused, energised, and as it turns out, having a nap is an excellent idea too; it helps improve your memory skills, and this is crucial if we’re going to perform any task well.
According to the Harvard Business Review, there’s more than one type of break. Generating good ideas and quality work products requires something that none of us gets enough these days: quiet. Otherwise known as a ‘communication break,’ it means cutting yourself off, briefly, from all forms of communication.
This kind of silence is about resting the mental reflexes that habitually protect a reputation or promote a point of view,” writers Leigh Marz and Justin Talbot-Zorn explained. In an environment like the office, where people express themselves a little more carefully than they would at home, pretty much everything you say or write takes a bit more mental effort; going silent, then, is “about taking a temporary break from one of life’s most basic responsibilities: Having to think of what to say.”
“When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda—what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next—it’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found,” they said.
Whether this means taking five minutes after a busy meeting to just sit alone with your thoughts, turning emails off during your lunch hour or better yet, leaving your phone behind as you go for an afternoon stroll, regular communication breaks and small periods of silence should leave you feeling refreshed and (hopefully) brim full of new ideas for that next presentation.