Knowledge work doesn’t involve lifting heavy objects, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably find that you start to lose energy and start repeating yourself after about an hour. That’s when it’s time for a break.
You want to do something different so you stay fresh. “Different” is the key. “Different” isn’t the same as nothing. There are three kinds of breaks you can take that will increase your productivity.
Do something that’s different and engaging. Shift to another project. Or do a different kind of work. If you were working alone, do something that involves others, and vice versa. If you were writing, do some research.
Do something that’s different and not engaging. You want something that doesn’t engage your mind very much. Cleaning up files is a good example. Almost any sort of routine administrivia will do. You’ll find that your mind will roam free, which means this can be a time when you start popping up ideas.
Do something that’s different and physical. This is even better for creativity. Take a walk. Exercise. Take a nap, but not too long, twenty minutes will do fine.
When you take breaks you increase your productivity over the long term.