We often think that the quickest way to get something done is to just spend more time doing it. But that’s really not the case.
When facing a challenging task we’re likely to get stuck not knowing how to proceed. When that happens, after a while instead of still trying to solve it, we should step away from it. Since the more we keep at it, the more we’ll be annoyed by it and get flustered.
Time away from it will let you see things differently. And a change in perspective can be what you need to solve the problem at hand. It doesn’t need to be a long break. Just getting up and walking a bit can be enough. It’s really just about distancing yourself from the problem.
Getting out of whatever environment you’re in and doing something else. Forcing yourself not to think about the task by thinking about something else you need/want to do. This is of course easier said than done but it’s essential to unwinding. Odds are that when you come back, you’ll be calmer and much more cool-headed.
But taking a break isn’t just useful when encountering difficult tasks. It’s equally as beneficial for the easier ones, since after spending time on the same task for a long period of time, it’s inevitable that we start losing our focus and simply can’t make the same effort as we did when we started.
Breaks are underestimated. Sometimes even seen as laziness. But just like the time you plan to work doesn’t equate to the time you actually work, the time you pour into a task or problem doesn’t reflect on efficacy (or even efficiency). It can even be counterproductive.
You don’t even need to feel yourself getting less productive to take a break. Take a break before you need it, not after.