A new study gives hope to everyone who’s ever surreptitiously checked their personal email or slain a few swine in Angry Birds on the company time. Far from being a distraction, the research suggests, occasional smartphone usage seems to boost productivity.
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According to an article on Phys.org, Sooyeol Kim, a doctoral student in psychological sciences at Kansas State University, conducted a study with 72 full-time workers in various industries. Each subject recorded their perceived happiness levels at the end of the day. Surprisingly, Kim found the average worker only spends 22 minutes out of their eight-hour work day messing around on their smartphones and that those who took short, frequent breaks throughout the day were happier. Short, non-work related breaks during working hours, or microbreaks, helped the employees deal with stress and refresh their minds, whether it was texting a loved one or playing a game.
Our human minds aren’t wired to work for an eight-hour workday straight through and concentration can start to wane, especially in the afternoons. Microbreaks help cleanse the working-palate and get you geared up for the next task. Along with playing a couple of minutes of your favorite game or posting a quick status on Twitter via your smartphone, microbreaks can also be non-phone related. Simple things like chatting with your colleagues at the water cooler, deep-breathing, and stretching, or taking a quick break to walk to the Starbucks around the corner will do the same thing.
A wrinkle for freelancers or telecommuters can be not having the same opportunities for short interactions with others that their office-working contemporaries do. If you work from home, don’t forget to take your own microbreaks. It’s easy to put your head down and work straight through lunch, but that might not be best for your long-term happiness and health.
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