Nowadays, distractions from work abound. In the time it’s taken me to start writing this short blurb, I’ve swung by the office vending machine, scrolled through Instagram for a couple of minutes, stared into space, quickly chatted with a colleague and glanced at Twitter. No, I’m not slacking off (much!). Turns out, I’m taking “microbreaks”: super-fast distractions from the task at hand that not only satisfy my short attention span, but apparently make me happier and more productive.
These very small breaks that ease your body and reboot your brain can last a couple of minutes – or even much less. A 2017 study found that surgeons who took 1.5 to 2-minute microbreaks to stretch every 20 to 40 minutes eased pain in joints and improved their performance in surgery. Another study from 2015 found that microbreaks sharpened the attention of assembly line workers. Ideas for microbreaks? Stanford University recommends frequent toilet trips and coffee runs, or placing the office printer far away from your desk.
And if you can’t stay on top of when you’re due for a microbreak? Don’t worry – there’s an app for that.