Brief Mental Breaks Boost Productivity


Taking brief interruptions and doing something else while doing a prolonged repetitive task improves one’s performance, a new psychological study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reveals.

The study divided 84 participants into several groups and made them perform for 40 minutes the repetitive task of pressing a key when the computer screen displays a line that is longer than usual. Some groups were asked to memorize a set of digits and their repetitive task was occasionally interrupted by a number and a question asking the participant if the displayed number belongs to the memorized set.

Lead researcher Alejandro Lleras says doing something else makes the brain alert as it is built to detect and respond to changes. Maintaining the same stimuli for extended periods apparently makes the brain see the stimuli as unimportant, eventually diminishing awareness and productivity.

Picture Credit: tryingmyhardest
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