A study conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne shows that looking at nature during your short breaks can make you more productive at work.
For five minutes 150 participants had the menial task of typing certain keys based on numbers flashing on the computer screen. Afterwards they had a 40-second break, when a photo of a rooftop surrounded by tall buildings appeared on their screens. Half of the subjects were just met with a plain concrete roof, while the other half had a roof covered with a grassy meadow. The break ended and the participants continued the task. The researchers then found that the concentration level of people in the first group fell by 8 percent, while that of the people in the second group improved by 6 percent, making their performance good and steady.
So what's with nature that it helps sustain our focus? Kate Lee, one of the researchers, told Harvard Business Review, "The theory is that because nature is effortlessly fascinating, it captures your attention without your having to consciously focus on it." She means that when we look at nature, we don't exert our minds or attention (which we use a lot on our job) so it gets "replenished." Kate says this replenishing is important since we have stores of attention control that are limited. Constantly using them for reading, planning/strategizing, and marketing really will drain our focus and will result in our making mistakes.
Forty seconds is a really short time for a break, but judging from the research, it seems like it's enough time to either look out the window and stare at some greenery or even just a picture.
What're you waiting for? Check out nature pictures for a few seconds. You've got nothing to lose and practically error-free work to gain!
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