In When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel H. Pink (Yale law graduate) discusses the importance of timing. He references the research done on Israeli judges handling parole requests. The judges were more likely to grant parole in the morning than in the afternoon. The leading explanation for this discrepancy was judicial fatigue. However, when judges took breaks, the difference in the granting of parole requests minimized. The antidote was restorative breaks.
So, what makes a restorative break?
Daniel Pink recommends the following:
- Take micro breaks. “Short breaks from a task can prevent habituation, help us maintain focus, and reactivate our commitment to a goal.” The most productive people take effective breaks. A study showed that the optimal ratio was to work for 52 minutes, then break for 17 minutes.
- Move during your break. A five-minute walk boosts energy and enhances motivation and concentration.
- “Social beats solo.” Social breaks in high stress occupations like nursing have been shown to reduce medical errors.
- “Outside beats inside.” Being close to trees, plants, and rivers is a powerful mental restorative break.
- Take a “tech free break”. Detaching from work momentarily reduces emotional exhaustion.
Daniel Pink opines that the perfect break is a walk outside with a friend. He also writes that lunch is the most important meal of the day, not breakfast. Lunch breaks that offer detachment from work and autonomy over what you do during lunch time are “prophylactic against afternoon peril”.
(Views are my own and do not represent the views of any organization.)