This study examines how senior local government managers take work breaks and how doing so is associated with perceptions of performance. Three purposes of taking a break are studied: (a) to reflect on prior work, (b) to restore oneself physically and mentally, and (c) to take care of personal, nonwork needs. On average, managers take a few breaks every week, lasting about 15 min each. Only about 45% of managers agree or strongly agree that break-taking helps them to reduce stress, clear their mind, make them feel reenergized, or otherwise improve their perceived effectiveness. About one third of managers often think about work while taking a break, which is not associated with positive break outcomes. Positive outcomes are strongly associated with minimizing external distractions, such as asking not to be interrupted, removing oneself from the workspace by taking walks or doing exercise, and focusing the mind on nonwork matters.
Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol.27, No.4, pp.380-400