Wasting Time Online Is a Great Way to Boost Your Productivity: Report

How did you find this story?

Maybe you clicked on it through a social network. Maybe you logged into The Atlantic's website and liked the headline. Or maybe your mom emailed it to you. Either way, let's be honest adults, shall we? You are not working right now. Not only that, but you are reading a story about not working. Why would you ever do this?

To enhance your workplace productivity, of course!* Love it when science corroborates our base instincts.

Taking a minute to relieve your brain from boring work duty has its benefits, argues a study out of the National University of Singapore. Don J.Q. Chen and Vivien K.G Lim write in their paper, "Browsing the Internet serves an important restorative function." For you econ folks, it works like diminishing marginal returns: the more you work, the worse your end product--at some point you need to pause and refresh. Screwing around online has that power, explain the authors. When browsing the Internet, people "usually choose to visit only the sites that they like--it's like going for a coffee or snack break. Breaks of such nature are pleasurable, rejuvenating the Web surfer," researcher Dr. Lim told Silverman in an email.

According to a 2009 study out of the University of Melbourne, while workers might spend paid minutes watching a YouTube video of a panda sneezing, or what have you, they more than make up for that time later in the day. "People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration," researcher Dr. Brent Coker told Ars Technica's Jacqui Cheng. "Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a day's work, and as a result, increased productivity." The research found that those who spent less than 20 percent of their time perusing the Internet's silly offerings were 9 percent more productive than those who resist going online.

Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.

*Editors note: We trust in this story, but we have a hard time keeping it straight with other reports that humans are horrible multitaskers and Internet abuse costs thousands of dollars of profit per employee. We plan on spending the rest of the day "investigating" the issue by running an uncontrolled experiment wherein we spend the rest of the day at Buzzfeed.com.

>

Presented by

The Atlantic Wire is your authoritative guide to the news and ideas that matter most right now.

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Business

Just In