When we have difficult and demanding tasks to do, the kind where we need to be creative, some of us tend to dive headfirst into the task and emerge from it a few hours later — after finishing it completely. In best case scenarios, we feel “flow” and time swiftly flies by, a feeling I find almost intoxicating.
For you who prefer listening to reading, this post is also available as an episode of the “Done!” podcast:
A bit too intense at times?
But, the question is if this behavior is optimal and preferable. Sure, we get the job done, but when we finish we might very well feel dazed and a little lightheaded. And no wonder - not taking any breaks will eventually drain you. Or, are we right to strike while the iron is hot and work till we drop?
An interesting study indicates that taking breaks regularly is highly recommendable and that it benefits your creativity and efficiency.
The researchers Lu, Akinola, and Mason at Columbia Business School found that the test subjects who switched tasks or took breaks at regular intervals did far better in a creative problem-solving exercise than those who “took five” spontaneously whenever they felt like it. The reason for this difference was, according to the researchers, that by pausing once in a while we reduce the risk of getting stuck in old patterns of thought without realizing it. Let us, therefore, decide beforehand when to take breaks whenever we are working on creatively demanding tasks.
The next time you need to work on a task that requires both your creativity and concentration, set a timer so that you know when to pause for a few minutes.
Use the timer on your phone, or for that matter, an app that allows you to flip between working and pausing at regular intervals.
Easier and better
If you plan and actually take breaks at regular intervals instead of only stopping when you simply do not have any more energy, you will, according to the study mentioned above, get the tasks requiring your creative side done easier and the end result will be of higher quality.
What is being on point and alert when doing something creative worth to you? Well, only you can be the judge of that, but speaking for myself, this is a trick I will try - especially since it gives me a good, valid reason to take a few minutes and simply rest.
What is your way?
What are your thoughts on taking breaks? Do you have a strategy for weaving rest into your tight schedule that works for you? It is an important question many are looking for an answer to, so feel free to email me and share what's your way.
(By the way, when you take a break, make it a real one.)
You can get more tips like this - easily and free
If you want more tips on how to create good structure at work, there are many ways to get that from me - in podcasts, videos, books, talks and other formats.