Skip to main content
It can be hard to allow yourself productive breaks. Learn two methods.

Take breaks to increase productivity

Time for a break

This article was written by medical student Lauren Bryant.

During this time of year, when MS2s are in dedicated for Step 1 and MS3s start worrying about Step 2/ personal statements, it can be hard to allow yourself to take productive breaks. Most people by now have heard that taking periodic breaks can increase productivity but may find it hard to decide how often to take those breaks or what to do on them. Here are two methods for taking breaks, and some ideas of what to do during them: 

  • The DeskTime Method- The 10% of most productive users using the app DeskTime were found to average working for 52 minutes before taking a 17-minute break. Keep in mind, this means that for 17 minutes, these users weren’t on their computer at all and stepped away entirely to do something else. 
  • The Pomodoro Method- This is probably the best-known method. In this method, you work for 25 minutes before taking a 5-minute break. Every 4 cycles of this, you take a longer break, between 15-30 minutes. Part of the key to this strategy is breaking down complex tasks into more manageable chunks for each cycle. 

Consider testing out one of these two break schedules or creating your own. Here are some ideas for how to spend your breaks: 

  • Get a snack (my favorite is an apple with peanut butter) and water/tea/coffee. 
  • Do an easy household task you’ve been neglecting, like washing a few dishes or putting in a load of laundry. 
  • Stretch! You’re probably feeling stiff from all your time studying. 
  • Mini dance party (another one of my favorites)! Put on a favorite song and move around!
  • Text a friend an encouraging message. Maybe you will find you got one back on your next break :) 

Happy studying!