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How you can take time off and get more done (11/24/10)

November 24, 2010

New Ways to Increase Productivity

Take breaks and get more done –  is that possible?

More than possible, if you know how the body renews and regenerates itself.

In yesterday’s New York Times, Jane Brody profiled Professor Tori Yancey of UCLA.  Yancey wants Americans to move, and knows well they don’t like to.  Her answer is to get people going, usually to music, for 10 minutes at a time – what she calls “Instant Recess.”

The results – when LL Bean had its works take three 5 minute breaks a day they increased productivity by a full 30 minutes – and cut out serious injuries at work.

At Replacements Inc., carpal tunnel problems and back problems markedly decreased.

In 24 Kansan schools, the kids were asked to move to music for ten minutes.  Their math and spelling scores went up, they lost weight, and they moved more at home..

How Active Rest Works

These are simple examples of something psychologists for over a hundreds years –  you have to take breaks to be effective.  Repetitive actions eventually lead to repetitive mistakes and, not infrequently, repetitive injuries.

But Yancey’s techniques mostly deal only with the physical side. Think of just a few of the benefits when you combine active rest techniques, of which there are many kinds that rebuild your body and mind:

  1. If you walk 20 minutes or more a day, you grow new brain cells
  2. You help clean up your arteries
  3. Sunlight helps improve mood
  4. If physically active with others you obtain social rest – as when dancing with someone you love
  5. You increase alertness for perhaps several hours
  6. You increase focus and attention span


The best results come when you add together active rest techniques to attain flow – when we normally get during our peak experiences.  In flow we lose self-consciousness; hone skills; forget time, and sense a unity between us and what we do.

You want as much as possible to make your done plentiful with flow activities – and active rest techniques can become flow experiences, all by themselves.

Can I Do This?

The most common answer is why not?  If you use your body the way it’s built, it should reward you – not simply with better health but with better performance.  Increased productivity is what economists wish to see to drive economies forward.  Productivity in daily life can drive people forward in their work and their play as they become more skilled, more sure, more confident, and more creative.

Varying activities through the day aids productivity.  Simple quick active rest techniques, the kind that can be done in 30-60 seconds, can easily pace your day, helping you reset attention and concentration.  All the different kinds of active rest techniques – physical, mental, social, spiritual – will work.  Best of all is when you put them together in ways that fit you.

You use the quick active rest techniques to recharge and renew your mind, and to set a rhythm to the day.  The more rhythmic the day, the more you tend to get flow experiences.  People in flow remember it, recalling the exhilaration that comes from doing so much so quickly and effectively.

There are many ways to get more done in less time.  A fit body helps create a fit brain, which then creates new solutions to old problems.

Take Breaks or You Make Mistakes

Remember – your body is rebuilt and remade rapidly all the time.  Give your body the right information and it rebuilds along the path you want.

So try these two rules:

Take breaks or you make mistakes.

Pace life, don’t race through life.

Breaks in the day are not wastes of time but quick ways to reviving and renewing you – if you know how to do them.

Rest, sleep, Sarasota Sleep Doctor, well-being, regeneration, longevity, body clocks, insomnia, sleep disorders, the rest doctor, matthew edlund, the power of rest, the body clock, psychology today, huffington post, redbook, longboat key news

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