Even if you’re struggling to schedule a vacation or take a day off, you can get a lot of bang for your buck by taking just a few minutes of rest throughout the day. Our bodies are hardwired to work in short spurts, and it’s no coincidence that we naturally break long stretches into bite-sized pieces. Studies show that those short periods of rest are powerful, and those who take regular breaks are often more productive and mentally healthy than those who don’t. 

Your mind requires time to recharge if you want to do your best work. This can be especially important for creatives who rely on a sharp mind to develop innovative ideas and concepts. Studies have found that taking breaks can help to prevent decision fatigue, allowing us to make better choices throughout the day. But when we push ourselves to work for extended periods of time, our brains begin to tire and our focus and productivity suffer.

Enter the 52-17 Rule.

Productivity app DeskTime analyzed data from the most productive 10% of workers whose time logs it captured, out of 5.5 million entries total. The analysis showed a pattern of 52 minutes of work followed by a 17-minute break during which workers disengaged completely from the task at hand. Disengaging completely seems to be key; by turning our attention to something else entirely, it allows the part of our brain that has been in use to rest. 

Numbing out on social media may seem like an okay break, but more effective break would be an activity that can absorb your attention completely for those 17 minutes. Take a walk, stretch your body, meditate, play a game, play a musical instrument — try anything that engages a different function in your brain and allows your work brain to rest. You’ll come back to the next work session surprisingly refreshed. 

Neglecting rest is a surefire way to burn out and start underperforming; just like any machine, our minds and bodies require maintenance in order to function at their best.

So next time you feel yourself burning out, remember that a short break may be just what you need to boost your productivity and creativity.