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Use breaks to optimize performance and reduce mistakes.

According to Anders Ericsson a psychologist internationally recognized for expertise on human performance and author of Peak, top performers are as disciplined about taking breaks as they are about their practice. Reportedly, they focus intensely for 45 – 90 minutes and then take a small break.

Reboot

Breaks act like a reboot for their brain which is why they are an important part of optimizing human performance. Everyone has a low period of performance in their day referred to as a trough. For most, the trough occurs at 2-3 p.m.

 

Studies of performance during the trough have proven the negative impact of trying to power through it. Test scores dropped, infection rates at hospitals increased, medical procedure outcomes were worse and verdicts were less favorable. No one is exempt from the trough or need for regular breaks.

Short breaks are effective 

Leading edge companies encourage their employees to take breaks whether to play a quick game of tennis table or take a short nap. Naps are one of the best ways to overcome the trough.

According to Daniel Pink author of When, a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage followed by a 10-20 minute nap is one of the best elixirs for the daily trough. The caffeine will kick in by the time you wake and give you an extra boost for the rest of the day.

Schedule your day for better performance

As you plan your day, schedule different types of breaks throughout your day to optimize your performance.

1/ Micro-breaks 

Do the breathing break if you wear the iWatch, walk to the water fountain for a refill or wiggle around in your chair for a few minutes. Whatever you do, take your eyes off your screen.

2/ Moving breaks

Take a little walk around the office, do some chair yoga or do a few exercises.

3/ Nature breaks

Take a walk around the block or take a little nap on the grass or park bench for the added restorative qualities of nature.

4/ Social breaks

Take a coffee break with a friend, play a game of table tennis or call someone to have a nice chat.

 

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