Here’s an alertness tip straight from the beach! Ever wonder how lifeguards stay alert, even on those hot and humid dog-days of summer? They practice a technique that is known in the lifeguarding industry as the “Five-Minute Scanning Strategy.”
Every five minutes, lifeguards will change their postures (for example they’ll go from sitting to standing, walking) and also count the number of swimmers in their area. The combination of the mental and physical activity every five minutes helps keep them alert and responsive throughout their shift.
The “Five-Minute Scanning Strategy” was developed by Tom Griffiths, a Penn State University professor who studied thousands of lifeguards around the world. He found that after 15 minutes of performing a simple task, a person’s performance starts to get worse.
By breaking up a task into 5-minute blocks, you can improve performance. His research is applicable to anyone working in a safety-sensitive task that is at risk for fatigue: try changing your posture on a routine basis. Looking for more Working Nights Tips, subscribe to our Working Nights Newsletter.