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It’s Science: Why Taking a Vacation Boosts Productivity

You have to work hard to get ahead, right? That’s what you’ve been told. Put your nose to the grindstone. Lock yourself in your office for an “all-nighter.” How many times have you gone on a coffee diet just to meet an important deadline – and then crashed when it was all over. The next few days are a hazy memory. Did you know that all that hard work might not actually pay off?

Taking a Vacation Boosts Productivity

In 2010, a survey indicated that the average American accumulates about 18 vacation days and only uses roughly 16. Why? Americans love to work. Contrast this with the French. French workers receive more than twice the number of vacation days.

Of course, the natural conclusion is that Europeans are lazy, and Americans are hard-working. Not so. The secret to being more productive isn’t working longer or harder. It’s working at higher efficiency. In 1999, New Century Global wanted to improve its worker efficiency.

It decided to tap into the Cornell University Ergonomics Research Lab. Cornell conducted a 10-week study at New Century Global with a computer program that reminded staff to maintain good posture and take short breaks throughout the day.

The results? Workers that received the alerts were 13 percent more accurate in their work than coworkers who did not receive any alert. Today, it’s easy to find studies that point to Internet misuse as a major time and money waster. One study found that Internet use costs U.S. companies more than $178 billion per year in lost productivity.

However, some researchers don’t agree. The National University of Singapore found that users who surf the Internet for less than 20 percent of their time at work are 9 percent more productive than those who don’t go online at all.

Increase Efficiency Through Breaks

It makes sense, intuitively. When you work non-stop, you get tired – especially when you’re staring at a computer screen every day, all day. Even when you work in a factory setting, with no computers, the repetitive actions become tiring.

Brief rest periods tend to make you feel more refreshed (try it). If you have the option during breaks, take a 5 to 10 minute nap. See how refreshed you feel when you return to work. Resting gives your brain time to relax. It’s not a machine. You can’t ask it to concentrate endlessly all day, every day.

Even taking some time clean up your work station a bit with CleanItSupply products can give your brain a much-needed rest from more mentally demanding tasks.

Take Longer Vacations

August is typically the “vacation month.” It’s also the least productive month of the year. Don’t take vacations? You should. Just as frequent breaks increases productivity, longer vacations increase motivation, productivity, and accuracy at work while decreasing resentment at co-workers.

In 2007, Businessweek reported that even 24 hour “mini-vacations” were better than nothing. So, don’t feel guilty about goofing off a little at work. It’s good for you, and it’s good for the company.

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