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Think of it this way: our concentration works like a muscle. With long periods of use our ability to concentrate begins to fatigue. When we work out our physical muscles, we generally to take breaks between “reps.” Similarly, our brains need periods of recovery for optimal function.
In order to be more productive and improve our concentration, we can think about which types of breaks are most effective for our individual styles and needs. For starters, we can begin by working in intense 20-minute bursts and then take a 3-5-minute break. Everyone is different but giving ourselves the chance to create an environment where we are more likely to focus, work well, and have fewer “brain wanders,” can be extremely helpful.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Ensure taking a break BEFORE we feel fully depleted. All of us have minds that go here, there and then somewhere else. That is normal. However, when our mind continues to dart and drift, it might indicate a decrease in the efficiency of our cognitive functioning. We can take it as a sign that we need a short break to refocus our attention and get ourselves on track. It can be helpful to set a timer as a reminder to fit in these much needed periodic breaks. It is an easy way to refresh our concentration abilities. Of course there are times when we are on a roll, feel focused and invigorated, and a break would interrupt our concentration and creativity. All we need to do is learn to differentiate between being in our zone and forcing ourselves to go on when we are not being productive. The latter can drain our energy reserves.
Get up even while we are working. Avoid long periods of sitting. In general, being sedentary is not good for our health. We need to move, to stand, to bend, and even a few breaks during the day can accomplish this.