"Slacking off," when done judiciously, can make you a healthier, happier and more productive worker.
We are always telling ourselves — as well as being told! — that we need to be outstanding go-getters at our jobs. Show up early, stay late and make every minute in between count.
Sound familiar? However, you may have noticed that nonstop toil can be a recipe for mistakes and burnout, as well as a host of physical and mental problems. Indeed, many of us are so focused on increasing our productivity we forget that taking breaks and pacing ourselves are excellent ways to become even more productive.
Chances are, though, that “slacking off” is frowned upon in your workplace. Worse, you yourself may even have become addicted to busyness (yes, this is a real thing).
Either way, learning how to slow down can be so good for us in so many ways that it’s worth a try. Here are four strategies to get you started:
Schedule some “you” time. If you have any control over the way you perform your job, exercise that control by setting aside blocks of time (they can be small) for yourself. Turn off your phone; put your email notifications on mute. You can use these uninterrupted minutes to concentrate on some task, or even to practice some mindfulness meditation.
Vary your lunch routine. Doing the opposite of what you usually do can have the effects of a mini-vacation. If you generally eat at your desk, go for a walk instead. If you are on your feet all day, sit down and eat a proper meal. (Also, when you do eat, eat mindfully. Don’t just stuff down a burrito while staring at your computer screen.)
Do your work in a different location. If you can take yourself and your job tasks off-site, do so. If not, move to an empty conference room for an hour or two. If you absolutely have to stay put, hang up a poster. A changed environment can feel restful and energizing all at the same time.
Finally, stop trying to multitask. It’s now widely accepted that multitasking is a myth. We can’t really do two things at once. We can only rapidly switch back and forth between tasks, which actually uses up more time and energy, and leads us to make more errors than if we had just concentrated on a single task.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at email@example.com.