Do you ever catch yourself getting lost in your thoughts at work or rereading paragraphs and realizing that you haven’t absorbed any of the information you just read? Sometimes the best way to be productive at school or work is to take a break! It sounds counter-intuitive but taking a mental break to clear your head and get your blood moving can be quite helpful at making you focus better on your work. I have outlined a few tried and true effective breaks styles and methods below.
What you should DO on your breaks:
- Hydrate! Hydration increases alertness and the ability to focus
- Eat a healthy snack. Don’t study on an empty stomach! It will be harder for you to focus if your concentration is preoccupied with hunger
- Go for a short walk
- Get up and move around
- Exercise your eyes
What you should NOT do on your breaks:
- Load up on caffeine. Drinking excessive amounts of coffee will leave you feeling dehydrated. A short burst of energy will leave you worse off when you need to focus for prolonged periods of time
- Go on social media. You can easily lose track of time and take an unintended extended study break
- Watch Netflix or TV. A 5-minute break can easily turn into a Netflix binge
- Continue to sit and take your break on your chair. Sitting for long periods of time is physically hard on the body. Especially if you are hunching your shoulders and straining your neck for prolonged periods of time
How Long Should a Break Last?
Take regular, short study breaks. After 25 minutes of work, take a 5-minute break. After 4 sets of 25-minute-long study sessions, take a longer break. 20-30 minutes for your extended break will suffice. Any longer and you can lose focus when revisiting your subject or lose motivation. This method is also known as the Pomodoro Method.
Remember that taking care of your body is just as important as studying and working hard! Your body will thank you when you take the time to stretch, walk and move around.
The Pomodoro Method
Author: Claire Ford, BA (Hons)
Clinical Receptionist | Social Media Rep | Toronto Health & Fitness Advocate