|10-23-2011, 09:05 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2011
How Much Work Before You Take a Break?
I'm trying to find out what is the optimal length of time to work before taking a break, and through reading books/articles and self-experimentation, I've found some interesting things.
Studies in ultradian rhythms have indicated that we can only focus for 90 minutes or so before our energy runs low and productivity drops. So, the obvious solution is to take a break every 90 minutes, which is what Tony Schwartz' Energy Project (Discover A Better Way of Working - The Energy Project) tells us to do. But I feel that these 90 minute cycles of high and low energy are very general and don't apply to all areas of life.
My reasoning is that if we are to take breaks when our energy drops low, then it doesn't make sense to measure our energy in terms of time. I haven't done too much background research into ultradian rhythms, but my hypothesis is that like almost everything that has to do with the brain, these rhythms fluid and sporadic rather than rigid and unchanging. Following my line of thought, I would assume that the optimal time to take a break would depend on the type of work you're doing, the difficulty of it, and how engaged you are in it.
Of course, you also have to factor in how much you enjoy the work, and this is where things get wonky. It's obvious that we can focus much longer on work if it doesn't seem like work; think of the concentration it takes to play a competitive video game. Would anyone like to take a crack at explaining this?
And finally, how long to you work before you take a break? Do you do everything in one go, break it up into many chunks, or something in between?
|10-24-2011, 12:23 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2010
At University, and now at work if I've been in a lecture of meeting for around 45-60 minutes constantly i find my attention span rapidly decreasing and boredom setting in. I would say work for an hour-75 mins then breeak for 15-20 minutes.
Of course it depends on what your doing - some topics I used to study i could happily do for 2 hours because I really enjoyed them, others getting to just 45 minutes was just a struggle. Sometimes at work if I'm getting bogged down I'll go get a cup of tea or jump on the web for 5 mins, then I feel ok to go straight back to it.
|10-24-2011, 12:13 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Feb 2009
If it's something tedious that I have to do, or want to "enjoy the outcome" though I don't enjoy the process, then pacing myself sometimes in chunks as small as 3 minutes helps me get through. Other times, I catch the wind in my sails and find 12 hours has passed!
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