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Most of us are conditioned to work to a 9 to 5 schedule. We work hard and continuously for these 8 hours but it is not always as productive as we think it is. Studies have shown that more than the length of time we spend at work, it’s how we spend it that matters. It showed that people who take short breaks during the work day are more productive overall.
Ideal work-rest ratio
Research has shown that the ideal work-rest ratio is 52 minutes to 17 minutes but if you roughly take a 15-minute break for every hour of work your productivity can be near peak levels because that’s the way the human brain works – high energy for about an hour followed by about 15-20 minutes of low energy. But the break has to be a total break without indulging in activities like checking email or browsing through the internet.
If you think about your own day, you will realize that you swing between periods of high energy and high productivity and low energy and low productivity, when you are tired. So the best thing for you to do is to accept it when you are tired and take the required rest so that you can get back with renewed energy to continue with your work. Most of the time you lose out on productivity because you keep working when you are tired and do not relax.
Here are some tips to help you increase your productivity by taking time off when you need to.
Break up your work day
Break up your work day into smaller periods so that you have definite periods of work and those of rest. Set goals by the hour- they become more manageable and they let you work at high productivity levels. Work in a focused manner during the hour you have allotted for work so that you achieve high productivity. Concentrate on your work, don’t spend that time doing non-work related things because then you are just wasting your high energy period.
When you take rest
When you take rest, see that it is real rest. Research has shown that frequent rest periods – even if they were at less than one hour intervals – are far better than no rest at all. Also those who brought work into their rest period lost out on productivity – people who cannot stay away from their phone or computer or work-list do not get real rest. When you are resting you need to do something like reading, listening to music, walking or just talking to a friend. And even if it’s a very busy time, treat rest periods with respect and honour them truthfully.
Rest at regular intervals
Another thing you need to remember is take rest at regular intervals – do not wait till you feel exhausted before you take a break because by then you have already started going down on your productivity level. So take a break before your body gives up on you. It’s more sensible to rest for short periods than work when you are tired and burnt out.