Thursday, August 14, 2014

Look, Ma! No Phone!

Labor Day (A U. S. holiday that honors the achievements of workers) is less than three weeks away.  Unfortunately, many Americans will spend their time off tethered to their jobs via phone, email and texts. That’s too bad because a real break boosts productivity back at work.

Entrepreneur John Roa, who makes a point of mixing travel for business and pleasure, credits time away from his desk with giving him a broader perspective and renewing his energy and focus. 

But don’t take Roa’s anecdotal experience as proof. A recent study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman and colleagues shows employees who pursue creative activities outside of work find these activities have a positive effect on job performance. In other words, free-time pursuits like travel, photography, painting, cooking, and so on require and rachet up flexibility, curiosity, and problem-solving ability. 

Still unconvinced? An American Association for the Advancement of Science blog post encourages scientists to get out of the lab and take a vacation to head off burnout and increase productivity and creativity. The post cites a 2006 study that found that “after vacation, less effort expenditure was necessary to fulfill the daily work chores.”

If you’re reluctant to detach from work email on weekends and holidays consider a New Republic article that finds the sixty-hour workweek causes a short uptick (less than a month’s worth) in productivity followed by a decline. Ouch! That decline hurts all of us.

Can’t manage three days off? A break as short as a nap offers benefits. According to Forbes, “. . . research shows that taking a break from work—whether it’s a noontime snooze or a week or two off—makes you more refreshed and productive when you come back.” Wouldn’t you know, though, the Forbes article acknowledges that employers often perceive vacation-taking employees as less dedicated than those who leave their vacation hours on the table. Double ouch! We have to do a better job of showing bosses the value of time off. 

Even if you can’t get to the mountains, beach, or your favorite hangout over Labor Day, let yourself unplug. Who knows, September 2 might be less difficult to face after you’ve had a short but real break.

How do you beat workaday stress? Two-week vacations? Three-day vacations? Staycations? Wine? Whine?


Jennette Marie Powell said...

Vacations are a must! Even short ones help. I am lucky at work in that I work on two projects in different locations. Spending a day away from one let's me return with renewed focus.

Coleen Patrick said...

I'm all for breaks to boost creativity!!! I love the extra hours in the evening right now, because I've been enjoying that time for long walks. :)
But I do take my phone--I love to take pics!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Jennette,
I didn't know you work at two different locations and agree that can be a bonus because your routine isn't all that routine. Know what? Your photos of your short break Kentucky let me mentally escape there for a while.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Coleen,
I'm glad you take your phone with you because I love your photos.