Why You Need To Take Deep Breaks

Which idea is right: spending multiple hours in a state of distraction-free deep work, or working in chunks followed by short breaks similar to the Pomodoro technique? The short but surprising answer is: both.

On Deep Breaks
by Cal Newport (@StudyHacksBlog)

Tips & Tricks:

Rules for deep breaks:

  • A deep break should not get you into an obligation you can’t fulfill during the break.
  • A deep break should not let you sink into a distraction sinkhole (e.g. browsing Wikipedia).
  • A deep break should not entice you to switch to a related, but not quite the same, task (e.g. formatting a spreadsheet when you should be adding data to it).
  • A deep break should not get you into a stressful experience.
  • A deep break should not suck you into an activity that might grab more attention later.
  • A deep break should be between 10 to 15 minutes (with exceptions, like meals).

Standard deep break activities:

  • Short walks to rehydrate.
  • Daydreaming about results of the current deep work activity.
  • Reading an unrelated book or article in a magazine.
  • Playing with kids.
  • Running short errands.

The key message is that when it comes to deep work, don’t force yourself to maintain peak concentration for hours on end.

Another way to recharge and refocus is by taking micro breaks.