Editor’s note: To increase productivity it sometimes pays to take a break

December 2, 2012

My office is sandwiched between the book review and food section staff.

How great is that?

Nourishment for the mind and stomach. It keeps me balanced when I am poring over annual reports and company data, something I’ve been doing a lot of lately as we wrap up work on the Post 200, our annual look at the biggest businesses in Washington.

The Post 200 has many moving parts; it requires the efforts of the entire staff. There have been days when I thought my head might explode juggling all the information crossing my desk.

And then:

In walks some creation from the Washington Post kitchen, and I am transported away from the madness, if only for a moment.

Last week it was a homemade doughnut hole oozing with some super-sweet yellow cream. My productivity soared the rest of the morning.

Perhaps the sugar high had something to do with my energy burst, but I think we all need a mini-break now and then to reset the internal compass.

For me, that might mean making time to read a book (lately, “Wolf Hall”), kick a soccer ball or see “Lincoln,” which, by the way, I recommend.

The Post’s recent survey of working Washington — the subject of our cover story this week — suggests a great many of us are searching for ways to squeeze in more time to better balance our lives on the job and off, to make us happier at both.

Sunday Business had a piece not so long ago profiling an expert in “extreme productivity.” Among Robert C. Pozen’s recommendations: Prioritize and take more power naps.

I’ve never had the nerve to climb under the desk, but I appreciate the sentiment. There’s a reason why so many of us are at our most creative in the morning, after we’ve had a chance to recharge the batteries, and dream.

Dan Beyers is the founding editor of Capital Business, The Washington Post’s go-to source for news about the region’s business community.
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