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Want to Be More Productive at Work? Slow Down!

Source: Tristan Schmurr

In the 1930s, the famous British economist John Maynard Keynes made the prediction that an economic boom would reduce the hours worked in industrialized nations. Down to something like “three-hour shifts or a fifteen-hour week.”

Has that happen to you, yet?

Us either.

(For the record, Keynes was right about the boom.)

Seems as if, as the 21st century rolls along, the workplace gets more and more distracting, making it harder to get good work down. We’re bombarded not only with our office phones, instant messages, and barrage of emails, but by our own cell phones, texts, and personal emails.

You might think the way to handle this digital onslaught would be to quicken your pace. You know, order a Trenta Latte instead of the Vente and work faster to Get Things Done.

Unfortunately, you’d be going about it all wrong.

As this post on Vox illustrates, science keeps showing us that slowing down, not speeding up, is the ticket to getting more, and better, work accomplished.

Here’s the six tips they give for being more focused, productive, and creative. But do be sure to read their whole article.

That is, if you’ve got time.

  1. Stop Trying to Multitask. Researchers believe that the human brain only has so much processing capacity—so by trying to carry out several different tasks at once, you're creating a bottleneck.

  2. Take Breaks. There's evidence that taking occasional, short breaks can help you focus more effectively upon returning to work, especially if you're having trouble concentrating.

  3. Go for Walks. Several different studies have shown that brief periods of walking or other moderate exercise increase people's problem-solving skills, leading them to approach problems in alternate ways.

  4. Take Naps. Okay, maybe this will be hard to pull off, but experiments show that people who take naps outperform those who don't on tasks that involve paying close attention to a screen for a long time and reacting quickly to stimuli.

  5. Try to Get Some Natural Light. Regular exposure to natural light makes people more productive in an indoor office setting. Prolonged exposure to harsh artificial light — from both overhead fixtures and your monitor — can also increase eye fatigue over time.

  6. Go to a Coffee Shop. Studies have shown that for some people, a level of background noise can enhance creativity. Can’t get away? Download the app or stream the site Coffitivity, which simulates the sounds of a busy coffeehouse.

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