Does having short breaks from work or study actually increase concentration?
Do you find yourself sitting at work, or studying, and an hour later you look at your watch and you have completed barely anything since the last time you looked at it?
This is a form of fatigue.
It is common for our brain to lack the ability to execute sustained attention and concentration for long periods of time. Studies suggest that prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance, sometimes taking much longer compared to our brain being fully focused.
The part of the brain that is predominantly affected is the Prefrontal cortex. The Prefrontal cortex is responsible for tasks, decision making, setting and working towards a defined goal, and differentiating among conflicting thoughts; all important when working or studying.
So how do we avoid this fatigue?
Have a break
By taking your mind off the set task it will give the Prefrontal cortex a rest as other brain regions will be relied on; this will in turn restore motivation and increase concentration when you get back to the task at hand.
The following activities relies on other areas of the brain so that you mind and body will be recharged when you need to get back into work:
- Walk or exercises
- Change your environment
- Have lunch or a healthy snack
- Take a few deep breaths
- Drink coffee or tea.
All of these ideas will help in their own way to recharge your brain so you will be more focused and productive with the activity you are trying to complete.
If you can’t take a break, try to switch work tasks. By changing your focus it can often feel like a break because you could be using a different part of your brain.