Our Digital Marketing Assistant, Kirsty, tried out the ’15 minute break’ system. Can it really enhance productivity at work? Here’s what she discovered…

If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with our blog posts recently, you’ll know that we’re trying out some new techniques to see if they affect our productivity levels.

In this great infographic about productivity in the workplace, we learnt that your brain can only focus for 90-120 minutes before it needs to take a break so I decided to try out the 15 minute break system. This involved scheduling a 15 minute break in the morning and a 15 minute break in the afternoon, alongside a half hour lunch.

My usual working day consists of working from 9:00 until around 12:30, taking roughly an hour lunch break and then working until 17:30, so sometimes it can feel like a long day. Subsequently, the first thing I did on Friday was schedule in my two additional breaks to make sure I wouldn’t forget to take them!

The first break

90 minutes into the day and it was time to take my first break. At this point in the morning I was still feeling rather tired and didn’t feel like I’d had a very productive day so far, so taking a break did seem sensible. I chose to spend my time watching some music festival coverage as a way to relax and shut myself off from the working environment for a small amount of time. The benefit of listening to a bit of loud music was that I definitely felt more awake afterwards but I’m not sure it prepared me for getting back to work.

2 hours later I took my lunch break. My usual lunchtime consists of playing pool before eating lunch at my desk whilst getting back to some light work. As you can probably tell, I’m not the best person at taking my full lunch hour so only having half an hour actually worked quite well for me.

In the afternoon

After lunch my productivity levels were fairly high compared to the morning, I felt like I was getting more work done and had actually achieved quite a lot by the time the 15:30 break came around. However, having to stop work to take a break was fairly frustrating. Although I could have pushed my break back, I had already been working for over 2 hours and it was nearing the end of the day. As I was already listening to the radio whilst working I continued this in my break, but this time made sure I wasn’t still focusing on my laptop.

 

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As a person with poor eyesight I have come to realise that looking at a computer screen for 8 hours a day is definitely not healthy, so taking these more regular breaks would definitely help. This was also a chance for me to grab a snack and drink to keep me going for the rest of the afternoon. I would consider the final part of the day as fairly strong in terms of productivity, as I managed to write a rough draft of a blog post as well as source some content for Twitter.

The question is, do I think the 15 minute break system increased my productivity levels in comparison to a normal day?

In all honesty, I don’t think so. I feel like some days are just more productive than others and that can be down to a whole range of reasons, whether that’s tiredness slowing you down, or just a task that you’re finding difficult to complete.

However, I can see why taking more regular breaks would be beneficial. For me I found it was useful in giving me a break from my laptop, enabling me to step away from the screen and give my eyes a rest. As well as this, I feel like the 15 minute break system helped me to take a full hour’s break even if it was split up throughout the day. And finally, I did have a very productive afternoon so this could have been down to taking more regular breaks.

 

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I think it is very difficult to judge whether changing my working pattern for a day actually made a difference, but perhaps if I trialled this for a couple of weeks I would see an overall improvement.

Here are some of my top tips after trying out the 15 minute system:

  1. Take regular breaks away from your laptop to give your eyes a break.
  2. Make sure you take your full break, it’s good to have a rest sometimes!
  3. Keep hydrated and have snacks throughout the day to keep you energised (but not too much cake).

Keep an eye out for next week’s post where Hannah will be trying out the Pomodoro technique.

Find out more

See how flexible working could benefit your employees (and a happy team tends to be more productive!)

What can you do to improve your company culture?

Could an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) help enhance your in-house recruitment team’s productivity?

Thanks to Neomam for sharing the original infographic (which you can find here) with us, and sparking our productivity journey!

 

About the author

Hannah Vincent

Kirsty is our Digital Marketing Assistant and resident 15 minute break productivity guru!