Taking short breaks during work is sometimes associated with being ‘less productive’ or ‘lazy.’
However, proponents of workplace breaks have often touted that such small breaks may actually have a useful place as a means of increasing productivity.
Well, nowadays, there’s actually some emerging research to help settle this disagreement once and for all.
As it turns out, according to the science, micro-breaks are actually helpful for specifically two different types of work.
And in this blog post, you’re going to learn exactly which types of work may actually be aided by regular micro-breaks.
Let’s break it down and dig into it.
First—What Is A Microbreak?
First, let’s define the term.
Micro breaks are generally defined as short breaks of 10 minutes or less performed during working hours.
And of course, they’ve been the subject of some controversy.
Some people see taking micro-breaks as simply being lazy and less productive, while others have long upheld that taking breaks actually makes you more productive and helps you to get more done in the long term.
Well, according to a recent CNN report, researchers have examined 22 different studies from the past 30 years, and have determined that short breaks actually do improve worker well-being—especially in two different specific types of work.
1. Routine Jobs
Routine jobs, and/or routine tasks, are basically defined as activities that involve a high level of automation, which don’t necessarily require you to use your full brain capacity to perform your work.
For example, repetitive tasks that leave your mind free to wander to other non-work-related activities would fall under the category of a routine task, or a routine job.
The problem with routine tasks is that since they can cause the mind to wander, you may be more prone to making mistakes while performing them if you’re not careful to continue to focus.
And of course, this is where the work part of it comes in.
But small micro-brakes can actually help to decrease the risk of mistakes in such cases—by helping you to stay focused on the task for longer periods of time.
2. Creative Tasks
Creative work is actually the opposite of routine work.
Creative tasks require you to delve into your brain to extract relevant information, to help you achieve and/or succeed at your creative goal.
While performing creative tasks, you’ll need to suppress ideas that aren’t related to the topic, which is partly where the ‘work’ comes in when it comes to creative types of tasks.
Short breaks can actually help you to reset your mental frame and increase your ability to focus on the activity—to help you avoid distraction over the long term.
Thus, we can reasonably conclude that people performing routine tasks, and people performing creative tasks, could both actually benefit quite a bit from taking frequent micro-breaks over the course of the workday.
Now, some managers may disagree with this—but rest assured, the science is pretty clear.
People engaged in routine tasks, and people engaged in creative tasks, definitely tend to be more focused and more productive in the long term when they take short micro-breaks throughout the day.