by Jenna Cassoli, School of Social Work, 2013
Happy people are more energetic, creative, motivated, and proactive. They solve problems better and faster, and they show up to work more frequently. Turns out that taking breaks to do something “unproductive” but fun and social actually makes for better work later. The attitude that may come from that break fuels more creativity, problem-solving, and general productivity. (Kjerful; Salemi; Stafford; Williams)
Based on that idea, I attempted to implement a once-a-month scheduled creative break time for the BC Career Center student staff. I let supervisors know, and these students’ bosses explicitly said it was ok to take this short break from their work. And they would not do it. We all— I’m guilty too—got up during our “break” to do work that we believed just couldn’t wait 10 more minutes.
I have a feeling that most Boston College students are high-achievers like my group of Career Center student staff. Sometimes, we feel extremely guilty if we are not being highly productive. And we tend to define productivity as being efficient on the job and chipping away at homework (and getting As!). But who decided that taking time to feel just a little more at peace is not productive? The evidence is there—why won’t we accept it?
In his 2010 book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor writes, “the best and brightest willingly sacrificed happiness for success because, like so many of us, they had been taught that if you work hard you will be successful—and only then, once you are successful, will you be happy…But in fact…new research in psychology and neuroscience shows that it works the other way around: We become more successful when we are happier and more positive.” SO TAKE A BREAK!
Get moving, get creative, or get off campus for an hour or two. Or just sit around with your friends, go outside and wander around, laugh at a Youtube video. It might feel like a waste of time, but it’s not. Says Anchor, “it turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best when they are not negative or even neutral, but when they are positive.” It’s important to work hard and meet deadlines, both in school and on the job. But you can actually do better at that by also enjoying yourself. Don’t forget to have fun, too.
Anchor, S. (2010). The happiness advantage. New York: Crown Business.
Kjerulf, A. (2007). Top 10 reasons why happiness at work is the ultimate productivity booster. Chief Happiness Officer. positivesharing.com.
Salemi, V. (2010). Start smiling: It pays to be happy at work. Forbes. Forbes.com
Stafford, D. (2009). Study finds that happy workers are more productive workers. McClatchy-Tribune newspapers. Tampabay.com/news.
Williams, R. (2009). Are happy employees more productive? eZine articles. http://ezinearticles.com/ ?Are-Happy-Employees-More-Productive?&id=2075758.