When should people take a break to stay productive? Researchers have found an answer to this.
Breaks are important to maintain productivity. But opinions often differ about how they should be designed. One theory is that breaks are most effective after 90 minutes. Scientists explain this approach along the basic rest activity cycle (BRAC), which humans are subject to at night and which also has a total length of 90 minutes. During this time, the person goes through several light and deep sleep phases. The cycle repeats itself several times.
In these phases the brain processes various information from everyday life and then recovers. A healthy person has four to seven repetitions per night. Deviations from this basic pattern often lead to sleep being perceived as less restful. In this respect, the BRAC pattern is considered the optimum or the ideal concept of regeneration for the body. The model is better known under the name “the sleep cycle”.
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Transfer the model of the sleep cycle to the working day
Sleep cycle – after a short “lying awake” (W) there follows some light sleep (N1), interrupted by waking up again, then some sleep of stages N2 and extensive deep sleep (N3) as well as 13 minutes of REM sleep (R). (Graphic: Wikipedia)
One of the researchers behind the BRAC model, Professor Nathaniel Kleitmann, also found out that this rhythm can be transferred to the human waking phase. The body also goes through various intervals within 90 minutes, which are composed of increased and less increased ability to concentrate. He also signals that, Kleitmann indicated, but we are now good at ignoring these signals with caffeine or sugar in order to keep us artificially awake with stress hormones.
Top performers treat themselves to a break every 90 minutes
To what extent the work In addition, the psychology professor at Florida State University, K. Anders Ericsson, has researched. The native Swede is considered an expert in the field of memory performance. As part of the work “Elite Performers”, he examined how musicians, athletes, actors and chess players train and found that the best among them would actually work in 90-minute cycles.
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“In order to remain productive, people have to hen avoid greater periods of exhaustion. “
You start in the morning, take the breaks mentioned between the training sessions and even rarely work more than 4 ½ hours a day, said Ericsson . This method meant that they were able to maintain increased performance for several weeks at a time. “In order to remain maximally productive in the long term, people have to avoid greater periods of exhaustion during the day,” the study said.
Also the author Tony Schwartz (“Be Excellent at Anything”) wrote an essay for the New York Times pronounced for this approach. In it he describes how he systematically integrated the BRAC model and the findings of K. Anders Ericsson into the writing process of his last books and thus became significantly more productive. He wrote that he worked up to ten hours a day on his first books for another year. Most recently he only worked 4 ½ hours a day and managed to finish two books within six months.
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