06 Dec Gain efficiency and well-being at work : pause is necessary…
Contribution by Jean-Christophe Beau and Gaël Allain, founder and Scientific Director respectively of My Mental Training Pro®.
And yes, our brain was not designed to work in ‘concentrated mode’ throughout the day. It is not only the matter of training and will, but it is also the physiological issue.
Like any other working muscle, the concentrated brain consumes a large amount of resources (glucose in particular) that quickly runs out, even during ‘basic’ activities such as perception. Vigilance studies have shown that our ability to remain concentrated decreases sharply with time (30% less after 25 min and less 50% less after 50 min).
Direct consequence of not taking break
Attention problem : you lose the point of a discussion, do not remember the beginning of the sentence of your interlocutor, or you can no longer block intrusive thoughts that parasitize your reasoning. In short, you lose the thread and sometimes become irritable; you can no longer bear the disturbances and the surrounding noises.
The icing on the cake is that you lose your overall vision of problems; you find it difficult to situate yourself in your projects and tend to discourage yourself from what you have to do. In other words, your perceived workload increases. This is normal since the latter depends directly on your state of mental fatigue. So you ‘push back’ tasks that require concentration, and try to get benefited from simpler tasks: Easier the chase, more difficult it is !
All these signs indicate that you are in mental saturation.
So what to do ?
The first good news is that the brain regenerates very quickly. Like when you change hands to wear something; in just 5min later, you return to the initial position with your arms rested. For the brain, it is the same: the neurons solicited by a task, recover when you use other areas of the brain, in 3 to 4 minutes if you totally change activity or if you really ‘rest’, without screen or smart phone…
The best solution is therefore, a pause in a quiet (or natural) place, which leaves your ideas come and go in mental divagation. Your brain switches to regeneration mode in less than 3 seconds, during which the networks of concentration are left at rest. This normal state of brain function, called ‘default mode’ is of contemplation, introspection and planning. It is favoured by a natural environment.
Of course on the 17th floor of a tower, all remains theoretical, but a regenerating pause can be recreated artificially looking at the sky or by closing your eyes and imagining landscapes… It is also possible to combine these moments of relaxation, movements, breathing exercises and mindfulness (awareness of the present moment)…
You can listen to music and practice visualization exercises (imagine places such as scenes that evoke good memories…) and also take mental training guide through micro exercises of regeneration. Again 3 to 5 minutes are enough if you use media that stimulate your imagination and reconnect it with your body feelings. Indeed, for your brain, imagining doing something or actually realizing it corresponds practically to the same thing. So taking 5 minutes to reposition yourself mentally in a situation of comfort and control makes it possible to efficiently remobilize resources, especially when the situation seems to escape you.
The 2nd good news is that diving into this state of guided or unaided reverie of ‘default mode’, will allow your brain to digest emotions, tensions, and generate new ideas and access solutions to complex problems ! It is the well-known phenomenon of ‘night porter’, and the good idea that emerges in the shower: In these moments of wandering, the brain ‘compiles’ the information, and proves to be more creative.
What benefits in short! Your brain works for you while you rest !
This is why all studies on micro-breaks in the office converge: 2 micro-pause of ‘silence’ per day, improves productivity and well-being. Good deeds are needed to get well !
Of course, you can also take social breaks, discussion, which will improve the ambience and the exchange of information, but they do not have the same impact on regeneration for concentration.
Conclusion: To be more efficient and serene at work, allow yourself these regenerative micro-pauses, and if you do not have a natural park at the foot of the office, discover the audio micro-packs of My Mental Training Pro in the ‘Regeneration’ section.