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Lawyers, Stay Productive by Taking Breaks

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on September 19, 2016 12:59 PM

If you've got a mountain of work to get through, don't put your head down and start powering through it. Instead, take a break.

Stopping to check Facebook, read a blog, or go on a walk can actually improve your ability to get things done, helping you address tasks with greater focus when you come back to them.

Work Better by Not Working

Taking some time to distract yourself makes you a better worker, especially when you're faced with a long slog through repetitive tasks -- just ask science. Lawyerist's Lisa Needham recently dug up a 2011 study that showed how "brief diversions" can improve focus:

A few years ago, a study overturned the conventional wisdom that the best way to concentrate is to stay focused on something for long periods of time. Instead, your concentration increases if you give your brain a brief diversion regularly. A control group was asked to perform the mind-numbingly repetitive task of looking at digits on a computer screen and determining if they saw certain digits. The group that took two brief breaks in the middle of the 50-minute task were much better at staying focused throughout.

But forget the afternoon siesta. Taking a break in the morning gave a much higher return on investment, in terms of physical and mental sharpness, than an afternoon break did, according to the study.

What to Do on Your Break

Sadly, for all of us blog writers, the best breaks tend to be screen-free. According to a study from Korea, you're likely to feel better if your breaks don't involve too much technology. So consider grabbing coffee with a friend, chatting up a coworker, or taking a brief walk, instead of refreshing your RSS feed. After all, a real break should involve stepping away from your computer and phone.

So if you feel yourself daydreaming, drifting off, or reading the same paragraph over and over again, get up and walk around. And don't worry if someone comes by and your desk is empty. You'll look busy, not lazy, and you'll return refreshed in just a few minutes.

Have an open position at your law firm? Post the job for free on Indeed, or search local candidate resumes.

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