Confessions of an Accidental Leader

You Can Set the Tone for Greater Productivity, But You’ll Never Believe How!

Are You Kidding Me?  Take a Break Every 52 Minutes for 17 Minutes, Really?

If you have to concentrate deeply in your work throughout the day, is it true that you should take more, longer breaks? And if this is true, can it really be possible that you will then have a better work-force who is more accurate, sharper, and creative? Will they really have greater focus while being less likely to burn out? As a Business Coach I had to ask, could it really be true? It sounds crazy to me, even counter-intuitive. In fact, it goes against the almighty American “Hard Work” ethic. Don’t we seem to view people who:mission and purpose in life

  • Work long hours

  • Sacrifice their lunch time to keep working

  • Stay up all night working just to finish a project 

  • Come in to work no matter how sick

as THE “RESPONSIBLE” ONES? But is it? The research I discovered regarding productivity totally debunks this time-honored perception. In fact, one article I read (link) states, “Frequent breaks throughout the day give a person better focus and creativity”. Then, a study done by the University of Toronto regarding lunch break patterns found that when people skip lunch THEY LOWER THEIR PRODUCTIVITY. The article goes on to say that John Trougakos, associate professor of Organizational Behavior and HR Management, found that our brains have just so much” psychological energy”. Use it up and you’re less productive. As I continued reading I discovered, and found it was validated scientifically, that you need to take a break every 52 minutes, and the break needs TO BE FOR 17 MINUTES of quality time off. Unbelievable, this was just too much to believe, but after the 3rd article sighting similar findings, I began to be convinced, especially with the scientific evidence pointing to the effect on the brain, including pictures! (link) What if these articles are really onto something? If your employees could be more:

  • Productive

  • Alert

  • Sharp

  • Creative

  • Able to make less mistakes

all of which will bring you greater ROI from their productivity, isn’t that worth it? That is unless you’re like one of my clients, who is paid by the amount of time their employees log for their clients. In this case it’s going to be a challenge to meet both demands, but still possible with some creativity! Besides this, it’s just not good to sit all day.  So let me encourage you, check out these articles for yourself. Do a trial experiment either on yourself or by tracking and observing your employees. If you can have them do better, faster, more accurate work, along with the ability to be more energized and feel your trust, why not! So, here’s to your success and greater productivity in all you and your employees do! And if you test this out for yourself, let me know, I’d love to hear the results!


One Response to “You Can Set the Tone for Greater Productivity, But You’ll Never Believe How!”
  1. Katie says:

    I completely agree that frequent breaks are a pretty big deal when it comes to maximizing productivity. What’s so interesting to me about it is that most people wouldn’t think that having a ratio as weighted as about 3:1 would be optimal. Most people seem to think it’s in the neighborhood of 5:1 or even 8:1 (an hour of breaks for an eight-hour work day).

    Then again, it probably depends some on the type of work being done. In something customer service-related, for example, there may be semi-frequent downtime which could lower the need for “recharging” through formal breaks.

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