Perfect Workplace Productivity: 52 Minutes Of Work Followed By A 17-Minute Break
Science has once again discovered some good news for workers: Working all the time is bad. This may seem like a no-brainer, since it’s been proven over and over again that people who work fewer hours are more productive and generally happier, as long as they’re not working for six or seven hours straight with no breaks.
Luckily, science has also discovered that the perfect amount of time for a break is 17 minutes. A recent experiment by social networking company the Draugiem Group, based in Latvia, showed that its most productive employees didn’t actually spend a full eight hours a day working, according to Fast Company. Using DeskTime, a somewhat creepy type of automatic tracking software that analyzes workers’ productivity, the Draugiem Group showed that the highest-performing 10 percent of its own workers typically worked for 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break.
Since the human brain is a muscle, it gets tired from repeated stress, notes the Atlantic. This results in “diminishing returns” as we try to force ourselves to work even when our brains insist that we’re tired now and need to take a break, or maybe even stop working.
It also turns out that “taking a break” doesn’t necessarily translate to “looking at GIFs of cats and/or dogs on BuzzFeed,” as some might expect. Although it actually has been shown that looking at pictures of cute animals will increase your productivity, the Draugiem Group’s study revealed that the most productive employees spent their 17-minute breaks away from their computers.
Those 17 minutes were spent completely away from the computer — not checking email, not on YouTube,” Julia Gifford of the Draugiem Group tells Fast Company.
This is, of course, not a time set in stone; if you’d rather take a 15-minute or 18-minute break and work for 51 or 53 minutes before doing so, you’ll probably still be equally productive. However, if you find yourself getting ambitious and trying to work for an hour straight, it might be time to take a stroll down to a co-worker’s cubicle and distract them for 17 minutes — or at the very least, find some cute pictures of puppies to look at.