You sit down at your desk, ready to start checking tasks off your to-do list, but quickly find yourself pulling up Twitter or Instagram the second you get hit with a new “like” or retweet. If this scenario sounds all too familiar, try this quick tip to maximize your focus and productivity. “Productive distraction” involves scattering short, planned breaks throughout your day, during which you can check notifications, watch videos, read articles, and do whatever else would normally pull you away from your work.

A Columbia University study found that occasional scheduled breaks, which let you temporarily set a task aside, may help you reset your thinking and approach creative problems with fresh angles. Therefore, quick digital recesses, especially when coupled with a brief meditation or physical activity, can diminish what experts call “cognitive fixation” — getting stuck on a single idea — and can ultimately help you hone your focus.

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  • Chloe Noor Khosrowshahi

    Thrive Global Editorial Intern

    Chloe Noor Khosrowshahi is a Thrive Global Editorial Intern and the Campus Editor-at-Large for Brown University. She is originally from Sun Valley, Idaho, but currently calls Los Angeles her home when she is not at school. Her favorite subjects at Brown are Gender and Sexuality Studies and International Relations. Outside of the classroom, Chloe loves producing films with Brown Motion Pictures and helping run the Ivy Film Festival, alongside working at a student-run coffee shop, practicing meditation, and obsessively watching Schitt’s Creek in her spare time.