Mind & Body

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Studies show that you can actually increase your productivity at work by slowing down.

Work Smarter, Not Harder
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You might think you’re far too slammed at work to squeeze in a quick meditation break, but studies show that you can actually increase your productivity by taking time out. “People get into difficulty when they try to multitask,” says Mason Fries, Ph.D., a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based clinical psychologist and lead faculty in psychology at National University. “But research shows that jumping from one thing to another causes a lot of stress.” Calming racing, stressed-out thoughts allows you to focus on—and complete—the work at hand. Not sure how to slow it down? Try Fries’ tips:

Wait until the third ring to answer the phone Fries recommends that during those first few rings, you stop, take two deep breaths and then answer. “Use the phone ringing as a reminder to get in touch with your breath,” Fries says. “After a moment to focus, we can be at full attention.”

Rein in Judgy McJudgerson tendencies Although the ability to make decisions quickly can be an asset in the workplace, snap judgments in your dealings with others at work can get in the way of constructive problem solving, says Fries. Before dismissing a colleague’s suggestion as unworkable, for example, try to recognize judgmental tendencies you might have. Once you’re aware of them, you can stop yourself from blurting out unhelpful or negative feedback and take a moment to consider solutions.

Remember: Life isn’t fair There will always be that person in the office who inexplicably gets a promotion or skates by despite seeming incompetence. But one of the best ways to improve your productivity is to let stuff like that go. Fuming or obsessing about things that aren’t fair at your job sets you up for frustration, Fries says, as you’re clinging to the false notion that you can control the world around you. —