You have so much to do, and you cannot figure out the solution to one specific problem. You do not deserve a break until you know how to resolve the problem. You will not take a break until you know that you are going to make your deadline.
Guess what? This might be the exact time for you to take a break. Indulge in a few cat videos or clips of puppies engaging in mischief. Research has shown that participants performed tasks better AFTER looking at pictures of baby animals.
Taking a break will actually help to ensure that you are working on the right priorities. Taking a break does not take you off course it actually keeps you on track.
Don’t trust me trust science.
University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras explains:
“…Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused,” he said. “From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!” (www.open.buffer.com/science-taking-breaks-at-work)
If you are worried that taking a break is preventing you from problem-solving, the opposite is true. When you take a break, your mind is not entirely idle. Some of your brain activity increases when you daydream and when you let your mind wander. Engineering professor Barbara Oakley states that while we do need to focus, we also need to enter a state called the diffuse mode. Focusing blocks us from this mode. Relaxing allows us to get into this mode and it is while in the diffuse mode your subconscious mind chips away at the problem that you are trying to solve. (www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/08/inquiring-minds-barbara-oakley-learning-neuroscience)
If this is true for you, then it is true for your team. When you see your team struggling with a complicated issue, encourage them to take a break. When you see a team member stressing out over a challenging problem, tell him or her to take a short walk around the building. You are not teaching people to walk away when the going gets tough. You are showing them that they can dig in and respond to the tough issues with a stronger and more focused mind. Make taking breaks part of your team discipline. Teach your team members that the way to real productivity and sharp thinking is to give your brain a rest.
You would not keep a high-performance engine running at top speed for extended periods of time. If you did it would burn out. And before it burned out it would gradually become slower and less efficient. Your mind and the minds of those around you are high-performance engines, don’t burn them out.
Take a break.