Study Finds Long Periods Of Uninterrupted Work Actually Hinders Productivity - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Study Finds Long Periods Of Uninterrupted Work Actually Hinders Productivity

Many workplaces pride themselves on a work culture that champions being chained to the desk at all times, too busy to even pop out for a coffee run or bite to eat. But according to a recent study, those who take breaks throughout the day aren’t just getting more exercise, they’re also more efficient and productive workers.
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As lockdown restrictions ease across Australia, many of us are now entering back out into the world. Granted, it doesn’t look quite the same as the days pre-Covid-19, when the mention of ‘masks’ conjured images of various charcoal goops and moist, sticky sheets one would apply to the face in the hope of turning back the clock (if only for an hour or two immediately post-application), but they are freedoms to be enjoyed all the same. Of course, with this re-emergence comes another setback: the return to the office. For some, it’s something to be celebrated; an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues you’ve only ever seen for the last few months via a computer screen. But for many, the return to the office presents a return to hours spent at the desk. 

Should you fall into the latter group, know that you aren’t alone. But while many consider hunkering down at the desk with a pot of coffee on hand, believing these tools to be the trappings of productivity, it turns out long periods of uninterrupted work could actually be hindering your productivity. Scientists have long suspected that sedentary habits have a negative impact on cognitive function and now, thanks to a new study from the University of Illinois, it appears that keeping yourself chained to the desk will only make it easier for your mind to wander. 

For the study, the activity levels of 89 overweight adults were examined over the course of a week. Researchers assessed their ability to multitask when faced with distractions. Those who habitually moved less – regularly sitting for 20 minutes or more in unbroken stretches – were less able to maintain focus, with both the speed and accuracy of their work impacted. Not only do breaks allow you to u

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It’s not surprising that so many of us found balance when working from home. With no time to devote to the work commute, our mornings and evenings were freed up. We had the option of a leisurely breakfast, of that morning run, an exercise class, or simply taking time to meditate, breathe deeply and take stock of all that we’re grateful for as we move into the new day. Just because some of us might have to return to the office now though doesn’t mean all of that’s lost for ever, or that the healthy habits we adopted during lockdown have to now cease to exist. 

You might now have quite the same opportunities for movement in the workday should you be returning to the office, but there is still plenty of time to get a workout in or add some incidental exercise to your day. Consider taking the stairs to consult with a colleague instead of emailing them, and when it comes to the lunch break: relish it. Get outdoors, go for a walk, find a spot to eat that requires you to move away from the desk and out of the office. And for anyone who gives you a hard time or a work culture that suggests you have to be chained to the desk at all times to be considered valuable and efficient, know that you’re actually doing yourself favours by moving and taking breaks. They might consider it a waste of precious minutes, but you’ll make them back by being the more productive worker. 

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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