As leaders today face a faster-paced, constantly-connected world, it’s more important than ever to take a step back and relax. We may believe that we need to work all the time to be productive, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Neuroscientists have revealed that we must take periodic rests to stay agile and concentrated.

How Downtime Helps the Brain

On the surface, taking breaks is counterintuitive, but when we are taking breaks helps us be more productive. When concentrating on a task, our brains enter what’s known as a “task-positive network.” This means that our brains focus on the task and filter out distractions. However, after sustained attention on a task, this network can become overstimulated, and our brains can start to wander. That’s why taking breaks every 80-120 minutes is essential. During these breaks, our brains enter a “default mode network.” (The “default mode network” is like the computer’s primary connection via the motherboard.) This is when we’re daydreaming or letting our minds wander. However, this default mode is vital for creative thinking and problem-solving. So by taking regular breaks, we’re giving our brains time to rest and recharge so that we can return to work with fresh eyes.

Encouraging Downtime for Your Team

Now that you understand the significance of downtime for productivity, it’s time to encourage your employees to rest regularly. Tell them it’s acceptable to take a five-minute break every few hours or so from their job. Suggest and listen for some activities they can do during their break, such as listening to music, going outside for a short walk, or playing a short game. Making time for your team to relax will make them more productive and creative.

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In today’s fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever to take some time out for yourself and relax. Our brains need regular breaks to stay sharp and focused, so make sure you’re taking some time out every couple of hours. Encourage your direct reports to take a rest break, and you’ll see improved productivity in no time!