Why taking time away from work makes you more productive

Families and Dads, flexible working men


Take a break!

Go on – do it now! Or at least after you’ve finished reading this blog post. I’m not really the best person to tell you what to do here, because when I’m “in the zone”, I like to keep ploughing on until I’ve finished something. I always feel that taking a break spoils my concentration and it takes me too long to get back into it.

But I’ve been wrong all these years, and today I proved it to myself.

Today, I drove two hours from home to Dunstable to run a sales reinforcement workshop tomorrow morning. I spent much of the day until I left sat in my office and working. I’ve got a lot going on at the moment, so I decided to shut myself away for six hours (with a short break for lunch) and achieve everything I needed to. But if I’m honest, my productivity in the last two of those hours was close to zero.

You see, after about an hour’s work, our ability to concentrate takes a huge dip, and after four solid hours, most of us end up doing what I did this afternoon – staring at the screen blankly and achieving absolutely nothing. If I hadn’t been travelling today, I’d have probably kept that up until five, but instead, I got up, went out, and drove to Dunstable.

I had a proper dinner, then sat down to work again at 8pm to just tie up a few loose ends, and I achieved a huge amount in an hour – way more than I’d have achieved if I’d kept going at home, and of far better quality, too.

So please, don’t waste time working – take time away from work to be even more productive. There’s plenty of research on the web about taking breaks. This is a great post, as well as this one – read them if you like, but take a break FIRST and you’ll get a lot more out of them!

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to feel you have to put in 60-hour weeks, but in fact that helps no-one, least of all you or your family. Less really is more, if you’re refreshed and raring to go!

*Neil Shorney is Principal Training Consultant at Navanter Ltd.

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