Let’s be honest; when was the last time you seriously went out of your way to take a day off from work? The corporate business environment often leads both business owners and normal office workers to overindulge themselves in their work. Plus, the mobile-first business model isn’t making it any easier to take time off, as you’re connected to the office no matter what. However, science is proving that it’s not just beneficial, but practically necessary, to take time off on occasion.
As Inc so wonderfully explains, “Push yourself through too many hours or days of work and your brain starts to push back.” It makes sense that the brain could use some downtime here and there. After all, if you work it too hard, just like a server or workstation, it will go down, and any work that it accomplishes will be relatively pointless and/or lost forever. It’s just like any other muscle in the body, as well; you need to flex it, then give it ample time to recover, otherwise you’ll risk wasting company time and money in an attempt to push beyond your limits.
So, rather than shuffle through the day’s motions, why not take a small break to read through these four tips on how to take some time off, and be more productive because of it?
Take short breaks throughout the day: If you’ve never heard of the Pomodoro technique, it’s a time management strategy that helps you be more productive while working less. Basically, you work in 25-minute intervals while taking short five-minute breaks in between. The idea is to relieve stress on the mind. The Pomodoro technique is also backed by science; researchers have found that switching to a simple task in between large work hauls can give the brain a chance to rest for a moment.
Take more vacations: On average, Americans usually get around 10 days of vacation a year. According to researchers, that’s not nearly enough. A survey by Harris shows that in 2012, Americans had an average of nine unused vacation days each year. Why exactly is this the case, though? You would think people would enjoy taking time off and seeing new things, or just being away from the office for a while. It’s good for the brain to take vacations from time to time, so make sure that if you haven’t taken one yet this year, to do so.
Give yourself at least one day a week to recharge: Contrary to popular belief, more time spent working doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re producing better work. In one study, executives who normally would work evenings in addition to their day schedule, were asked to leave one evening a week free. As you might expect, they were somewhat reluctant to participate at first, but wound up enjoying the schedule immensely. The idea is that taking some “me” time here and there is a good way to conserve energy and recover from strenuous brain activity.
Take a nap: Taking a short nap in the middle of the day might sound like a bad idea, but it can actually improve your work performance for the remainder of the afternoon. Naps can increase alertness, productivity, and accuracy in executing tasks. In Japan, sleeping while on the job is seen as a good thing, and makes employers view their employees as hard workers; in fact, workers will often pretend to sleep while on the job to show their employers that they’re working hard. Talk about a culture shock.