Word Of the Week #596: Productive

January 7, 2016 by  

Productivedoing or achieving and getting good results.

Do you feel you are as productive as you could be? Are you working longer hours trying to  get everything done? Did you know that taking breaks actually increases your productivity?

The LA Times Sunday Business Section featured Joyce E. A. Russell’s Career Coach article, Taking breaks from work is vital. She writes, “It’s the holidays and many of us are overwhelmed juggling work, family schedules and end-of-the-year pressures. We work longer hours trying to accomplish more, and yet the piles don’t seem to disappear no matter how much we work. So we start earlier and stay up later, hoping that throwing more time into our work will enable us to get it all done.

Yet many researchers show us that this isn’t the most productive way to work, and in fact wea productive may be less productive by pushing ourselves to work day and night with no breaks in sight.

Taking breaks during work actually increases productivity because it refuels us. It enables our brains to recharge, even if we break for just 60 seconds. Pushing ourselves with no time off taxes our brains, making it harder for us to stay on task or remain attentive to what we are doing. Despite what we may think, we don’t have endless cognitive resources.

It is especially important to take breaks if you are being paid to be creative and innovative. Our brains need to be rested to come up with new ideas. Forcing yourself to stay focused on the task at hand for hours upon hours puts a lot of stress on your brains to maintain this self-control. In addition, breaks help you reevaluate goals to make sure you are accomplishing the right things or in the right ways.

How can you rejuvenate? Take short breaks at work by leaving your desk to get up and take a walk or have lunch with friends, or take longer breaks in which you might take a hike, unplug from technology or take a power nap. It doesn’t mean simply trading one work-related task for another because this does not relax your brains.”

Next week I will share more tips from Joyce on how to rejuvenate. Make this week’s focus on being productive. Do you tend to keep pushing harder by working longer hours? And where has that gotten you? What breaks do you take during the course of your day? When’s the last time you had lunch with a friend?

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