You learned in the last two chapters why procrastination leads to you working slower and working harder than is necessary to complete high-quality work. Working harder than is necessary is going to drain you in many ways, not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and socially as well.
During any long-term project that spans the course of days, weeks, or even months, you are going to have periods where you will not be as focused as you normally would be. You’re going to have periods where your mind wanders, thinking about other things and not the task you are currently working on, whether that’s other aspects of the project you’re working on or topics that are not related to the project in any way, such as family, friends, leisurely activities, personal interests, etc.
It’s virtually impossible to go through an entire long-term project without letting your mind wander at some point. It’s also impossible to put in great work effort and intensity continuously for hours on end to complete a project in the highest quality possible. This is why taking regular breaks is key to ensuring your mind remains focused and your work quality remains high.
Many experts suggest that most humans can only stay focused on a task for around 45 minutes out of a one-hour period. This means that for 15 minutes of every hour, their attention spans aren’t at their optimum levels, which means that focus and concentration wane, which can lead to slower, lower-quality work.
Therefore, it is recommended that you take at least a 15-minute break every hour that you put in work in order to keep your attention span at its optimum level. Taking a 15-minute break every hour will allow you to stretch, give your mind a rest, and allow you to refocus on the task at hand when you return. This is especially true if your job or task requires you to do the same actions over and over again over that 45-minute period. Human brains can get bored easily when they are required to do the same tasks repeatedly; they lose interest. To stimulate the brain and get it to focus all of its energies on the same tasks, it needs a regular break, which is suggested to be 15 minutes for every 45 minutes of work put in.
Therefore, you should be taking regular breaks throughout any projects you are doing; you should NOT be trying to do them all in one sitting, hour-after-hour, day-after-day, week-after-week, only taking breaks to eat, shower, and sleep. Doing that will lead to your brain losing focus, you getting bored, your work quality suffering, and you taking longer to complete the work than is necessary for it to be completed, either because your mind will wander and/or you will make a critical error and have to redo the work again.
This is another reason why you cannot afford to procrastinate; if you procrastinate, you will be less able to take the regular breaks you need to stay mentally sharp and engaged in the work you are doing, which will cause your work quality to suffer over the long term. Procrastinating will force you to have to work longer periods in an effort to make up for the time you lost by procrastinating or lead to you being late for completing your project, which can damage your credibility, reputation, and profitability.
Taking regular breaks every hour, including getting up, stretching, using the restroom, getting a snack, talking to a friend or colleague, checking social media, playing a mobile game, etc. can help your mind to rest and recharge for the future work you need to complete at a high-quality level.
Note, though, that you should be spending no more than 15 minutes per hour on your break; if you start to go beyond that, you’ll start to lose some momentum and find excuses to stay away from work. Therefore, if you think or know that spending time on social media or playing a mobile game will take longer than the time left in your break, don’t do it. Only do activities you know you can keep to within the 15-minute time span so that you don’t, go over the time allotted for your break, don’t ruin your momentum, and not cause you to look for ways to keep from returning to your work.
In this chapter, you’ve learned that taking regular breaks (15 minutes out of every 60 minutes) will enable you to do your best work. You’ve also learned that being able to do this is virtually impossible if you procrastinate, all the more reason not to do so. In the next chapter, you’ll also learn why you must take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and socially so you can do your best, work.