Do you surf the web at work? Perhaps you sneak in a bit of surfing time between hard tasks or when boredom hits. A recent research study suggests that surfing the web may actually help you be more productive at work!

Don J.Q. Chen and Vivien K.G Lim, of the National University of Singapore, presented two studies that suggest taking short breaks to surf may increase productivity and efficiency at work. Especially if you are highlighting the letter “e” in a text, as the study subjects did. Granted most of us don’t do that sort of “work,” but the findings are nicely suggestive for work in general. In two studies, one with 96 management undergrads and another with 191 adults, they found a 10 minute web surfing break was more restorative and (as compared to no break or to a non-web surfing break) lead to:

  • Significantly greater productively
  • Significantly greater effectiveness
  • Lower levels of boredom
  • Lower levels of mental exhaustion
  • Higher levels of engagement

The researchers suggest this is because web surfing is enjoyable and self-selected towards pleasure (unlike answering email, where we have no choice if the message we get is pleasurable or not). The 10 minute pleasure break can make a big difference. So take those surfing breaks, but avoid personal email. And show your boss this study to help support your surfing for something fun.


Rachel Emma Silverman. “Web Surfing Helps at Work, Study Says.” The Wall Street Journal. August 22, 2011


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