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Surprising Science

How Relaxing Makes You More Productive

Our current thinking on productivity demands us to be bigger, stronger, faster without regard to the fact that both time and energy are finite resources. To work better, relax more often.

What’s the Latest Development?

The best way to get more work done is to spend more time relaxing. Although it sounds paradoxical, mental and physical renewal is an essential step in the process of getting good work done. “A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal—including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations—boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.” Companies that offer employees more vacation benefits, for example, have higher productivity and lower turnover rates. 

What’s the Big Idea?

The way we currently think of productivity—getting bigger, stronger, faster—is built on the mistaken assumption that time and energy are finite. Energy, defined in the physical sciences as the capacity for work, is not finite. It is, however, renewable. Thanks to new scientific studies, we now understand that our mind’s ability to concentrate works in cycles of about 90 minutes. The most productive individuals, from athletes to academics, start work early in the day and take pauses—to eat, to exercise, to nap—every hour and a half. As a result, they are more productive and have more free time. 

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Read it at The New York Times


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