The pandemic may have affected how the most productive people take breaks

In a 2014 study, productivity software company DeskTime found that the most productive workers were those who took regular breaks, working on average 52 minutes and then taking 17 minutes of break time.

But the researchers wondered if that would hold true after all the upheaval of the pandemic. “The entire reason why we wanted to pursue this research was because our work lives have changed so dramatically over the past year and half,” says Julia Gifford, one of the researchers and the originator of the study. “We were curious to see if that would have had an effect on the [work to break time] model that we were seeing a while ago.”


According to the researchers’ most recent findings, the most productive DeskTime users are now spending nearly two hours working (112 minutes) and nearly half an hour taking a break (26 minutes). The company determined which users were the 10% “most productive” by looking at those who used “productive” apps the longest. (Users self-select which apps they consider “productive,” “unproductive,” and “neutral,” based on their type of work. For example, a social media manager might deem Facebook and Twitter as productive apps, while a financial adviser might deem them unproductive.)


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