Want to Be More Productive? Step Away from that Desk!

Last Updated Aug 28, 2009 12:16 AM EDT

Managers have a lot on their minds these days: worries over economic security, job cuts and staffing concerns are just a few of the problems you might be stressing out about. You're not alone: a recent poll conducted by the American Psychological Association reports that among workers aged 45-54, 81 percent of men and 68 percent of women considered work a significant source of stress.

With this in mind, a pair of recent posts on the Harvard Business Publishing blogs seemed especially relevant. Not surprisingly, both give stress management advice that involves getting away from work on a regular basis.

Slow down to increase output
One of the major stress factors for most of us is never feeling like we're getting enough done. Harvard blogger Peter Bregman offers advice that at first glance may seem like an inscrutable Zen koan. In his post "To Get More Done, Slow Down," Bregman reminds readers of the importance of taking a day off.
"When we do take the time to rest, we discover all sorts of things that help us perform better when we're working. Inevitably my best ideas come to me when I get away from my computer and go for a walk or run or simply engage in a casual conversation with a friend," he writes.

And go for a swim while you're at it
As Bregman notes, a walk or run are great for refreshing, and at this point, we all know about the importance of exercise for health and stress management. However, Patrick J. Skerrett, editor of the Harvard Heart Letter, says you should put away the running shoes and get out your swim trunks instead.

"Two new studies show that swimming is on a par with running for maintaining muscle and cardio-respiratory fitness, and may even help you live longer," writes Skerrett. He also points out that less strenuous exercise such as walking doesn't give you as much of a cardio workout and takes more time to get results.

Potential longevity aside, Skerrett concludes that the best kind of exercise is one you will enjoy enough to engage in several times a week. Is exercise a regular form of stress relief in your life? What else do you do to unwind?

Swimming image courtesy of Flickr user Ed.ward, CC 2.0

  • Stacy Blackman

    Stacy Sukov Blackman is president of Stacy Blackman Consulting, where she consults on MBA admissions. She earned her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and her Bachelor of Science from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Stacy serves on the Board of Directors of AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, and has published a guide to MBA Admissions, The MBA Application Roadmap.