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3 Workplace Distractions That Will Make You More Productive

Putting aside office tasks for a short while to watch a baby panda video isn't just enjoyable--it can actually help you do your work better.

We've all heard that we need to cut out distractions if we want to progress in our careers and get work done. But maybe you're just not picking the right distractions.

Everyone needs a little brain break during the day. But most people don't realize that working these into your schedule may actually help you tackle your tasks more effectively.

Why distractions?

Distractions can make you more creative and lead to problem solving. Sometimes, the harder you focus on trying to solve a problem, the more elusive the answer. But when your brain is preoccupied with other stimuli, your mind is able to make free associations. In fact, Harvard University scientist Shelley H. Carson found distractions can force an "incubation period" in which the brain continues to work away on the problem subconsciously.

You need a break to give your brain a reboot and get creative. So amp up your productivity with these must-have distractions:

1. Look at baby animals.

Cat pictures and live panda cams don't just improve your mood during a workday. They also trigger a positive emotion associated with motivation and processing. Japanese researcher Hiroshi Nittono discovered that looking at cute animal pictures at work has a positive effect on productivity. In fact, participants in his study performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images.

So the next time you find yourself browsing BuzzFeed Animals, /r/aww, or watching videos of baby pandas on Pluto.TV, remember the positive effect it will have on the rest of your tasks for the day.

2. Exercise.

You've probably heard that a regular exercise routine can make you happier, smarter and more energetic. What might surprise you, however, is that the habit can also make you mentally sharper for your entire life.

According to Robert Pozen, author of Extreme Productivity, as we age, our bodies generate fewer and fewer brain cells, but early research in mice finds that exercise can help prevent this slowdown. This gives regular exercisers a huge advantage in the workplace.

Do yourself a favor--squeeze in a quick online fitness video or make a trip to the gym on your next break. Your body and your mind will thank you for it!

3. Meditate.

With hard work often comes stress. And this stress can seriously hurt productivity and concentration for any worker.

The good news? Simply meditating can help alleviate these issues. In a recent study from the University of Washington, meditation was found to help workers concentrate better, remember more work details, stay energized, and experience less negative moods.

When you're feeling stress come on, put your mind at peace by tuning in to meditation videos or spending some time doing walking meditation.

The right distractions can help workers reboot their creativity and take a much-needed break from the workday. Next time you feel guilty for clicking on that kitten video, keep in mind it can do wonders for your productivity.

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