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How to Boost Your Creativity and Work More Efficiently

Updated on March 8, 2016
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I'm a business communications coach who teaches writing, speaking, and leadership skills to adults in the midst of a career change.

Increasing your performance and productivity at work could be as simple as going outside for a walk, playing a quick word game, or drawing a funny doodle while on your coffee break.

Rev up your engines by taking regular breaks at work.

Go play outside! If you work from home as a freelancer or entrepreneur, taking a 20 minute break to go for a walk can boost your energy levels!
Go play outside! If you work from home as a freelancer or entrepreneur, taking a 20 minute break to go for a walk can boost your energy levels!

Taking regular breaks and engaging in repetitive tasks throughout the day can boost your productivity.

If you're feeling pressure to make rapid progress on a big work project, you might think the best thing to do is to just keep at it non-stop until the projects gets done.

The truth is that very few people can stay focused on a single task for a long period of time. Even if they do manage to push through and complete the project, the results won't be as accurate as they should be. Most people need to break up their time in order to give their minds (and bodies) respite from long periods of intense concentration.

Setting your mind free for a while improves your memory. Has this ever happened to you? You struggle to recall a name or a fact but the harder you try to remember it, the further it slips away. Two hours later when you're doing something else, you suddenly blurt out the answer. Moving on from a frustrating task frees your mind up to retrieve the information you were looking for. Mindless tasks work the same way by freeing your creative mind to work quietly behind the scenes. While your conscious attention is focused on something less mentally taxing, your creative mind is hard at work solving problems and finding solutions to complex challenges.

You'll live longer and enjoy better health if you break up your day. In addition to improving your productivity by taking regular breaks, you'll actually be improving your health and extending your life span! Researchers at Leicester and Loughborough University in England have raised serious concerns about the negative health effects of sitting too long. After analyzing health studies done on close to 800,000 participants, they found that sitting for long periods of time increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and death. Too much sitting has also been linked to cancer, deadly blood clots, and obesity. So, when you do break up your day, be sure to choose activities that promote movement and increase your daily step count.

  • Go for a light walk.
  • Climb a few flights of stairs on your coffee break.
  • Chat with a co-worker at lunch while standing up, like you would if you were at a cocktail party.
  • If you work from home and have pets, give them some play time. Fetch is a great way to give your dog some TLC while you stand on your feet.
  • If you need to work on a computer-related task, transfer your project to a laptop and find a place where you can work for 20 minutes while standing up.

What do you like to do on your coffee break?

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Doing a word puzzle on your coffee break can help boost your mental alertness at work.
Doing a word puzzle on your coffee break can help boost your mental alertness at work.

Give yourself a break. The next time you find yourself working non-stop on a project, challenge yourself to break up your schedule by engaging in a variety of easy activities that are not intellectually draining. If you work from home, vacuuming or gardening are ideal activities to change up your routine a bit. If you work in an office, stuff some envelopes, clean out your office junk drawer, or de-clutter your pinboard. If you are worried about wasting time with a mindless activity, then you might want to set a time limit on your activity, say 10 to 20 minutes. (Check out this list of useful tasks you can complete in 20 minutes or less.)

See the results for yourself. When you sit back down to your work you’ll have new ideas and you'll be able to get more done. When you let your mind roam freely for as little as 20 minutes, your creative thinking and problem solving skills increase.

How long can you last?

How long can you stay focused on a single work project, before you need to take a break??

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If you think you are too busy to go out for a walk at work, grab a few of your co-workers and have a mobile meeting on your feet!
If you think you are too busy to go out for a walk at work, grab a few of your co-workers and have a mobile meeting on your feet!

The article How to Increase Your Productivity at Work was first published by Switching Gears and Changing Careers.

© 2013 Sally Hayes

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  • Lipnancy profile image

    Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

    I have never had a professional job where breaks were not frowned upon. Besides I would rather get the task done and over with.

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