Nothing got us through a morning (even a Monday) like a break for little lunch. On occasion, the vision of tearing open your lunchbox for a sweet treat was the only thing that kept us alive through those dragging morning classes. So, where did that tradition go now that we’re full-time working adults?
While breaks are proven to boost productivity and help keep you focused but further, there are additional benefits to scheduling those breaks and sticking to them, according to research published in American research journal, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
When it came to scheduling time for creativity, study participants were given three options: switching back and forth between two tasks whenever they liked, switching back and forth between tasks in set intervals or thirdly, using the first portion of time on one problem and the second to solve the other task. The most effective method? Switching between tasks at the discretion of the clock.
“The issue with [the more flexible] approach,” argued the researchers, “seemed to be that people failed to recognise when rigid thinking crept in. Participants who didn’t step away from a task at regular intervals were more likely to write “new” ideas that were very similar to the last one they had written.”
See that? There’s your pass for a break right there.
“While they might have felt that they were on a roll,” the article continues, “the reality was that, without the breaks afforded by continual task switching, their actual progress was limited.”
In this case, the ‘break’ was moving onto another task but we’d argue that taking time out from a task itself is the catalyst for the creative thinking – it’s the forced closure of an activity that prevents additional wasted time and a further opportunity to generate new and fresh ideas. That’s where little lunch factors – in conjunction with a task scheduling tactic like the Pomodoro method, work in some much needed breaks in order to refresh your mind. You know what’s a great type of break? A little lunch break.