Top five productive ways to interrupt your workflow
By Sophie Isbister, Life & Style Editor
Even though it’s only week three of the fall semester, it’s not too early to talk about effective study habits. The jury is back on the topic of breaks, and numerous studies agree that the best way to maximize your productivity is to take regular breaks. Lifehack.org reports that a single “microbreak” (a break of anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes) can improve your mental alertness by an average of 13 per cent. Good stats aside, breaks are just fun as hell. I’ve compiled a list of the top five ways to take a break (and none of them involve eating a Kit Kat bar).
5. Move your eyeballs. Constantly staring at a book or computer screen can cause eye strain, so the shortest of all microbreaks can simply involve moving your eyes around. Look out the window, look at your cat, or just look at the air in front of your face.
4. Hydrate. Water is the best thing for you. Your brain is about 77 per cent water, which makes the easily accessible fluid crucial for the brain’s proper functioning. Getting up to grab a hit of H2O not only breaks you from your work, it moves your body and provides you with hydration—an added boon to your brainpower.
3. Tidy up. Tear your eyes away from your blank Word document and look around at your workspace. Are there empty glasses (from all that water)? Scattered coursework? Wayward pens and pencils? Do a five-minute clean blast on your desk—not only will it help you focus on your studying, it’ll clear some physical space to help you breathe easier.
2. Make a change. Are you currently studying 18th century British literature? Take a break to do a Sudoku or read an article on coding HTML (wait, do people still use HTML?). Are you engrained in some heavy stats cramming? Set it aside to spend a few minutes sketching in a notebook, or writing a poem (wait, do people still write poems?). Switching the mind from a left brain (linear and analytical) task to a right brain (emotional and creative) task can provide some much-needed variety and stimulation.
1. Dance break! Topping the list of my favourite breaks is the classic dance break. It’s exactly how it sounds—pick your favourite song, blast it from your computer speakers (roommates be damned!), and dance like nobody’s watching until it’s over. Moving your body wakes you up and stimulates your brain, and an upbeat song definitely has the power to energize you.
Stopping for a break on the regular is one of the keys to academic success. When you’re drowning in books, which you may already be, try to remember to be kind to your mind and engage in one of these popular breaks every hour or two. If all else fails, just have that Kit Kat bar.