To Break it or Leave it: 7 reasons you should make time for breaks at your next meeting

You hear a lot: ‘We won’t be able to finish everything on the agenda, but let’s see how far we get’. How uninspiring to be in a meeting where the contrast between allocated time and issues to discuss is just unmanageable! The team might well crunch through the agenda for 4-5 hours in one go, but what is actually left? How much will be remembered?

Ever wondered why? Well, sitting down for hours and trying to focus is a difficult task. You do remember your school days, when you were waiting for the break?That liberating feeling of playing, of sharing and discussing with friends about anything, including what was going on in the classroom. And then rebooting your attention span with a snack or a refreshing sip of water. How wonderful!

Nothing changes as we grow up. Studies show that at work, a brief brain break is essential to boost your concentration, your interest and your performance. Just a short, 5 minutes break can work miracles, it is not a waste of time. And if taking too many breaks while working at your desk might not be ideal, it is the only way to get real results during meetings. Here is why you should incorporate breaks in your next meeting:

1. For multi-hour meetings, schedule a 30-minute break every 90 minutes.

Some studies suggest a 17 minutes break should be taken every 52 minutes. You know your group best of course, but remember that, boredom or exhaustion spread like a virus: when one gets up, you also ache to get up and stretch your legs.

2. A lively discussion outside the meeting room is likely to take place.

Like in those old school days, remember that a lively discussion outside the meeting room is very likely to take place: some team members prefer to talk privately rather than to the group. Those discussions are precious, they allow even introverts to express their opinions and therefore to bring the discussion further.

3. ‘Bio-breaks’ to have everyone back at the same time.

As the organiser of the meeting, prevent people from taking breaks at different times and miss out on something: offer enough ‘bio-breaks’ to have everyone back at the same time.

4. As humans, we need time for reflection, for processing and assembling information.

Breaks allow you to retain information and make mental connections, like when you are taking a shower, or driving the car in silence and suddenly you feel like your breakthrough is coming. Studies show our brain is extremely active when daydreaming!

5. Breaks allow you to be motivated.

The brain stops paying attention when the task is the same for a prolonged time. It’s actually built to detect and respond to change according to a study of the University of Illinois, which means variety makes our brain more active and receptive.

6. Breaks do surprisingly keep you on track.

If the meeting agenda includes breaks, mentally you get in the mood of following through easier. Do ask your venue staff to help you out with the arrangements and the timings.

7. If your brain needs some rest, so does your body.

Providing healthy snacks, such as freshly squeezed juices or a smoothies, keeps you going longer, as your body is energized again.

In need of inspiration? Hold your meeting at HUONE and have a refreshing and creative break!