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Gimme a break!

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

Now THIS (Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, above) looks like an excellent spot to increase my productivity! says:

It may seem counter-intuitive to busy entrepreneurs, but research shows the best way to improve your productivity is to stop working. While managers have long complained that employees take too many breaks and should be working harder and longer, studies are now showing that breaks hold the key to improved productivity.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, by Emily Hunter and Cindy Wu, associate professors of Management at Baylor University, breaks not only help to prevent burnout, but increase feelings of job satisfaction and helpfulness at work.

There is nothing counter-intuitive about the findings to entrepreneurs who have previously worked in industry. While traditional management is geared to “clock watching,” entrepreneurial folks understand that those “breakthrough” ideas often occur during “downtime,” whether it be “in the shower” or “during a dream” or “on the beach.” :-)

The authors, Hunter and Wu, suggest strongly that you not WAIT until 3 pm to take a break or even wait until lunchtime. (LUNCHTIME? Several high-tech places that I work STRONGLY discouraged lunchtime, preferring instead that employees take their lunch while working at their desk. A director of mine once told me candidly that she really respected my observation of “lunchtime.” I told HER, “When you don’t eat breakfast (I don’t, except for two cups of coffee before operating a motor vehicle….) LUNCH becomes the most important meal of the day!” Some places tried to STEAL my lunchtime with MEETINGS! (Now, THAT is productive! :-) )

Hunter and Wu have some suggestions for taking an effective break:

  1. Do something that you like! “Preferred activities give most beneficial results in terms of feeling refreshed and rejuvenated,” says Hunter.
  2. There is no set number of breaks. “While some individuals thrive off taking one long break, others find their productivity soars when they take frequent small breaks. Finding that sweet spot may take some trial-and-error, but Hunter warns, it’s important not to wait until you’re completely exhausted before taking a break.”

-Bill at

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