Have you ever worked so hard without a break that by the time you stand up you’re practically sprinting to the bathroom? Have you ever found yourself nodding off in front of your work, unable to focus? Well, guess what? Neither our bodies nor our brains are made to work without a break all day long.
Taking a break, in fact, helps keep our memories intact. Scientists have long known that sleep helps solidify memory. Now it turns out that resting while awake––meaning taking a periodic break from work––plays a separate but equal role in processing and ingraining information into the brain. Downtime, in essence, is a cognitive necessity not an indulgent treat. It replenishes attention and motivation, creativity and productivity.
Scientists have even figured out the perfect formula for this break, down to the minute. It’s the 52/17 rule: 52 minutes on, 17 minutes off.
This week, we’d like you to try this 52/17 method. Use a timer, if you’d like, and stick to the rules: when you’re working, you can’t do anything else. No checking Facebook, no calling a friend, no texting, no staring out the window. Just work. Then, when you’re doing your 17 minutes off, you must be equally strict about not working. Call a friend. Stare off into space. Take a walk or a bathroom break. Anything but work. Not only will you be helping your brain process information and keep it and memory intact, you’ll be upping your productivity as well.