Try This Now: Take a Break for “Productive Distraction”

This will change how you think about taking breaks at work.

Courtesy of Marie Maerz / Shutterstock
Courtesy of Marie Maerz / Shutterstock

You sit down at your desk, ready to start checking tasks off your to-do list, but quickly find yourself pulling up Twitter or Instagram the second you get hit with a new “like” or retweet. If this scenario sounds all too familiar, try this quick tip to maximize your focus and productivity. “Productive distraction” involves scattering short, planned breaks throughout your day, during which you can check notifications, watch videos, read articles, and do whatever else would normally pull you away from your work.

A Columbia University study found that occasional scheduled breaks, which let you temporarily set a task aside, may help you reset your thinking and approach creative problems with fresh angles. Therefore, quick digital recesses, especially when coupled with a brief meditation or physical activity, can diminish what experts call “cognitive fixation” — getting stuck on a single idea — and can ultimately help you hone your focus.

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