Why Relaxation Is The Key To Productivity

We all know that taking multiple breaks throughout the day can boost productivity, but just how important is it?? As The New York Times points out, relaxing is one of the best ways to actually get stuff done.

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We're all prone to getting too little sleep occasionally, to leaving work late because we're getting caught up on email, or to eating lunch at the desk instead of getting away. All of these things combine to drain our energy, and when that happens we're less productive.

For example, take sleep. We've mentioned before that quality sleep is one of the best boons to your productivity, and the Times echoes that:

Spending more hours at work often leads to less time for sleep and insufficient sleep takes a substantial toll on performance. In a study of nearly 400 employees, published last year, researchers found that sleeping too little — defined as less than six hours each night — was one of the best predictors of on-the-job burn-out. A recent Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $US63.2 billion a year in lost productivity.

Holidays are just as important for relaxing. As we've noted before, unlimited holidays can increase productivity, but you have to actually use that time off to recharge.

We often overwork ourselves to get ahead, but that's counterproductive because it ends up being careless work. You may have heard that the body sleeps in 90 minute cycles, but that same cycle exists in waking life as well. Every 90 or so minutes, your brain tells you to take a break. When you don't obey that signal and instead opt for another coffee, your performance starts to decrease. It's just how we work:

The importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology. Human beings aren't designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we're meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.

In the end, it's all about working more efficiently, and doing a better job. Take a few real breaks whenever you can throughout the day, and if you have to, schedule breaks in throughout the day.

Relax! You'll Be More Productive [The New York Times]


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