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How mini-vacations increase productivity

Are you more focused in short meetings or long meetings? Do you get more done right before vacation or right after vacation?

Heidi Hanna, Ph.D., is an expert on using psychology strategies to improve productivity and performance. One of these strategies, as covered in her 2014 Annual Meeting Focus Session “Brain works: A brain-based approach for optimal performance,” is to treat each hour of the workday as if you are about to go away for a while and need to get a lot done. In other words, work hard for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. That way, you can be productive, catch your breath, give your brain a rest and then return to the remaining tasks at hand.

“If you do that and you start to oscillate, you will get more done in less time, and you will feel better at the end of the day,” she said.

Practice what you preach

Of course, you have to stick by the approach — if the alarm goes off to take a break and you think “just one more thing,” Hanna said, suddenly it will be late at night and you are still working and your mind is still active.

“Right before you go to bed, you have this brilliant idea: ‘Oh, I better just email this one person,’” she said. “What does that do? It lights up the activity center in your brain. No wonder you can’t go to sleep. You’re not the only one who has your best ideas before you go to sleep. We all do. Right before you go to sleep, while you’re in the shower, getting a massage, doing something to relax, that idea hits, and you think, ‘I’ve got to hold onto it!’ Now suddenly you’re in stress mode.

“So it’s important to build recovery and relaxation into your day regularly. Not just for you, but for the people you care about and your clients.”

Read more in “Brain works: A brain-based approach for optimal performance”

Written by Matt Pais, MDRT Content Specialist

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