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The right way to slack off at work

  • Story Highlights
  • If you're getting your work done well and on time, you should be able to relax
  • Tactfully say no if you've got too much on your plate
  • Eat lunch away from your desk for good mental health, expert says
  • Multitasking often leads to little getting done, nothing being finished
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By Anthony Balderrama
CareerBuilder.com writer
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CareerBuilder

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A city worker takes a break outside. Experts say clearing your head will help you produce better work.

A city worker takes a break outside. Experts say clearing your head will help you produce better work.

Would you care if your colleagues called you a slacker?

Your instinct might be to deny allegations of being anything less than an overachiever, but in reality you could be better off as a lazybones.

The conventional workplace wisdom is to keep up with the Joneses and then leave them in the dust. After all, in a competitive job market, you don't want to be seen as a weak link. But if you're getting all your work done well and on time, why shouldn't you take a little time to relax?

Hectic workplaces

A decade ago multitasking was a buzzword; now it's a way of life. Between technological advances and evolving workplaces, you might only have one job title but perform the duties of several positions.

If you scale back on anything, you might feel like you're not doing your job even if you are. In order to preserve your sanity and help your productivity, try to bring a little relaxation to your daily routine. While your job may never resemble a tranquil meditation retreat, it doesn't need to remind you of a scene from "ER."

Here are a few ways you can be the right kind of slacker at work.

E-mail can wait.

No, really, it can. You don't have to answer an e-mail the moment it pops up on your screen. Unless you're waiting for that one message that could make or break your career, you should designate time to check e-mails so that you don't get distracted while doing other tasks. You can even disable the new message icon and noise alert so you don't get distracted while doing other tasks.

Saying 'no' won't get you fired.

If the boss or someone comes to you with a task that's part of your core job duties, by all means accept it. However, if you're drowning in work as it is, telling co-workers that you just can't get to their request right now won't necessarily hurt you.

If you tactfully explain that you'd like to help them but you've got too much on your plate shows you care about the quality and promptness of your work.

Don't multitask.

The ability to simultaneously talk on the phone, send an e-mail and heat up the meatballs for the monthly potluck is an admirable quality but not necessarily the most beneficial. Multitasking has become the de facto approach to daily operations in many workplaces. The problem is that often we end up doing a little of everything and never making much progress on any one task.

Give yourself a break.

Literally, just get away from work for five minutes. Take a walk around the floor or step outside for some fresh air. Without Saturday and Sunday off, you'd probably go a little stir-crazy. Think of brief breaks throughout the day as small-scale versions of weekends. You'll return with a clear head and produce better quality work.

Don't eat lunch at your desk.

Eating at your desk can be an occasional necessity, either because you're close to a deadline or you're in a productive zone that you don't want to interrupt. Having your lunch in front of a computer every day, however, doesn't give your eyes or your mind time to relax. You might feel like a slacker if you're the only one taking your sandwich outside for thirty minutes, but your mental health is worth it.

Schedule some "me" time.

Go into your calendar and block off a period of time for whatever work you need to do without interruption. Treat the meeting as if it were an important appointment with your boss and consider it non-negotiable.

If someone tries to schedule a meeting with you, tell him or her that you're busy but can try for another time. If possible, book a conference room so you won't be interrupted by a chatty co-worker or a phone call.

Copyright CareerBuilder.com 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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