A Formula for Perfect Productivity: Work for 52 Minutes, Break for 17

Can a person truly be productive while looking at pictures of adorable kittens? The answer is yes, and their productivity is dependent upon their ability to walk away from their career responsibilities. In an article for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson analyzes a study on how telecommuting improved a Chinese call-center’s performance and what implications this holds in other sectors.

For most people, the concept of endless work is not conducive to an efficient environment. It is far more beneficial to strategically take breaks in-between work sessions to allow the mind to rest and reboot. The mind is a muscle and it needs to take a breather.

Relax and Work

According to a recent study, the perfect amount of time for a break is 17 minutes. DeskTime, a productivity app, tracked employees’ computer use and discovered that the employees who are the most productive work for approximately 52 consecutive minutes and then indulge in a 17 minute break. A study done in 1999 gave results that coincide with this mentality: employees reminded to take short breaks produced more accurate work.

In the mid-1920s, an executive studied the productivity of his factory workers. He discovered that when he cut their work week from six days to five, they could get the same amount of work done.

The important thing to remember is that “17” is not some magic number that will work for all employees in all fields. What is key is that the employee takes a break. The best, most productive employees do not have to put in the longest hours, but rather put in hours that mean the most.

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