When we fall behind at work — which for many of us feels like a daily occurrence — our tendency is to feel like we have to then our hours, do away with personal time, and push even harder. But this thinking actually contributes more to the problem.
Working non-stop without a break is actually bad for your productivity. After a while, your mind stops being able to function at full force, and your hours of work become less and less fruitful. In fact, a Harvard study once found that sleep deprivation amongst American workers costs the US economy $63.2 billion in lost productivity every year. Pushing ourselves too hard also leads to more stress, more irritability, and more trips to the doctor’s office.
Productivity and rest are intrinsically linked. The need to play doesn’t go away as soon as you get a 401k. Relaxation, rejuvenation, and fun are all critical to full mental function. They’re also good for overall health and work/life balance.
If you’re looking for methods for being more productive at work, stop eating lunch at your desk and silently competing with your co-workers to see who stays the latest. Instead, try a few of these tasks:
Get up from your desk once an hour.
Take a walk around your floor and maybe chat with a few of your co-workers. Don’t be that annoying person that messes up everyone’s train of thought, but be social. You can also do stretches in your office to help get your blood flowing. Maybe ask your cubicle mate to join you in a game of ping pong. Doing something physical will clear your mind, relieve aches and pains, and give you a second wind for that big project you’re facing down.
Use your vacation time.
If you’re a manager, you should encourage everyone who works for you to take their vacation time, too. Make sure people feel supported and have people covering for them while they’re away. Try to limit work contact as much as possible while on vacation. Don’t let constant access to email spoil your good time. Finding a few days to relax here and there will make you happier and more productive throughout the year.
Take your team on a fun adventure.
A night at a restaurant or a workday spent at an adventure course will help your employees bond, give them a well-deserved break, and help boost their creativity when they return to their desks.