Why goofing off boosts productivity

Goofing off doesn’t sound good. Prolly “taking a break” is better.

Here are eight additional reasons why I think Internet slacking boosts productivity.

1. The subconscious mind keeps working.
Unlike physical labor, which stops when the worker stops, the mind keeps working on mental tasks when you’re not thinking about them. This powerful process of problem solving happens when you’re surfing the Web for fun, watching TV and especially while you’re sleeping (hence the phrase, “Why don’t you sleep on it?”).

Internet slacking helps this process by getting the conscious mind, which is prone to getting stuck or blocked, out of the way.

2. It gets personal things off your mind.
If you’re worried about your kids, or missing your spouse, or preoccupied with some pressing personal matter, you’re not going to hit all mental cylinders in your work. Social networking, Twitter and personal e-mail let you quickly get in touch with friends and family, find out what’s going on, then get back to work with full attention.

3. It builds work relationships.
Companies spend a fortune on lame team-building exercises and outings, which build work bonds only because everybody is suffering from the same forced interactions.

Social networking, on the other hand, can allow employees to build bonds at no cost to employers. Yes, people interact with family and friends who are not part of the company, but usually people interact with co-workers, too, and this can help build teamwork.

4. It converts real-time interactions into asynchronous ones.
A social interaction controlled by others (also known as an interruption) can devastate attention. I’ve found that a five-minute office “pop-in” by a co-worker can set me back the equivalent of an hour. This kind of concentration-shattering interaction is allowed — and even encouraged — in the workplace, while social networking interactions are frowned upon or even blocked. Why? Social networking interactions on Facebook and Twitter are, by definition, controlled by the user. They happen between, rather than in the middle of, bursts of focused concentration. They restore productive concentration without interfering with it.

5. It makes work more enjoyable.
People will hate their jobs if they have a strong desire to check in with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube during the day, but are blocked from doing so. If they’re allowed to wander online, on the other hand, they’ll be happier employees. And happy employees are productive employees.

6. It replaces bad slacking with good slacking.
If you think nobody ever wasted time at work before the Internet came along, well, you may also be interested in a bridge I’m selling on eBay.

People waste enormous amounts of time at work because of messy desks, inefficient processing of tasks, hallway chit-chat, long phone conversations and — the mother of all time wasters — meetings! All these activities look and even feel like work because they exhaust the mind and consume the hours.

Because people still have to meet their work objectives, deadlines and metrics for success, however, Internet slacking is likely to displace not productive work, but other (and lesser) forms of workplace slacking.

7. The Internet is educational.
Scanning blogs, RSS feeds and Twitter will inevitably introduce employees to wonderful time-management techniques, and stimulate the mind in other ways. (For example, this article you’re reading now could be professionally valuable to you in some way. But aren’t you supposed to be “working” instead?)

8. The mind will not be contained.
You can force an employee’s body into a cubicle or office, but you can’t force her mind to follow.
The human mind is a curiosity engine. Give it nothing to do but work, no way to satisfy curiosity or desire for social interaction, and it will rebel. More specifically, it will retreat into the daydreaming echo chamber. It will wander. It will seek ways to sabotage other employees (because that, at least, is interesting). It will employ its natural ingenuity to find ways to avoid work.

Complete article here.

I may agree that happy employee can become productive employees, yet it doesn’t mean that goofing off by visiting social networks (such seem to be an advantage as presented by the author) is often good. Out of these 8, only number 3 is applicable to me. 😐

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