When your to-do list is a mile long, your inbox is overflowing, and your head is spinning, stepping away from your desk for a little while seems unreasonable at best, impossible at worst. But research shows that many activities typically deemed pointless can actually encourage productivity. After studying more than 11,000 CEOs and business owners, productivity expert and New York Times-bestselling author Jason Jennings found one thing they all had in commong: an affinity for taking breaks.
"Our research found that the most successful leaders take frequent breaks throughout the workday," Jennings says. From listening to music to taking a walk around the block, read on for nine ways that you too can "waste" time effectively.
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"After you sit for an extended period of time, about two-thirds of your blood settles below your waistline," Jennings says. "You need to get up and move around every so often to get the blood flowing back to your brain so you can concentrate." Movement also relaxes tense muscles and reduces anxiety, so a brisk walk around the block or in your backyard can improve your mood by the time you get back to your desk, says Cathy Sexton, a productivity strategist and coach.
Another bonus? That problem or question you've been trying to figure out may very well solve itself as soon as you stop focusing on it. "Taking a walk doesn't mean forgetting about the work at hand," Jennings says. "Many of my biggest ‘eureka' moments—a book title, op-ed essay idea, or speech opener—have occurred while I'm doing something else, not just sitting at my desk and concentrating on the problem."