Goof Off at Work, Be a More Valuable Employee

Can goofing off at work make your more productive? According to a recent Forbes article and a host of experts, the answer is an absolute “yes.”

Susan Adams, a staff member at Forbes, writes about the growing body of research that suggests the longer you stay stuck to your desk, the less quality work you will produce.

From your weight to your health to your ability to concentrate and churn out valuable work, taking breaks to give your mind a rest during the work day can have huge benefits.

Take a recent study published in the journal Cognition, for example, that strongly suggests prolonged attention to a single task hinders performance overtime and brief breaks help you stay attentive and more focused on your task.

To explain this, John P. Trougakos, an assistant management professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Rotman School of Management, likens mental concentration to weight lifting: Before you can go in for another rep at the gym, you need to give your fatigued muscles a brief period of recovery. Your brain is the same way.

What kinds of breaks qualify? Anything that clears your mind from the task at hand. Go on a short walk, talk to a co-worker about something not related to work, run an errand or take a 15-minute cat nap, if allowed.

James A. Levine, a professor at the Mayo Clinic, who stresses that sedentary jobs are detrimental to your health, says you should try to incorporate movement throughout the day, even whilst working. For example, handle a work phone call on your cell while you walk around the block.

And for those of you who either skip your lunch break or eat at your desk, Trougakos says both food and a change of scenery are both important nourishments for your brain. So resist the urge to forego that important break in favor of getting through the assignment.

Dr. Levine asserts, “Long hours don’t mean good work — highly efficient, productive work is more valuable,” and breaks every 15-30 are more likely to get you there.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is not to overdo it. Balance is everything, Professor Trougakos says and too many breaks can also lead to procrastination, as well as making you look like a slacker in front of your coworkers and employer.

“Anything at an extreme level,” he says, “is not going to be good.”

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