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Step Away from the Computer: Why Your “Breaks” Aren’t Boosting Productivity

We've all heard the same advice about taking small breaks during the day – you will be more productive if, instead of working on one task for hours and hours on end, you take small breaks throughout the day. This advice can be applied differently depending on the type of work you're doing. Many jobs that take a lot of creative energy also require “the zone,” so you may stop to breathe every few hours.

Regardless of what kind of work you do, you're probably taking this advice to some extent. Perhaps you're on a “break” right now, this very second.  Did you find this post when you were taking a quick Twitter break?

These little productivity “boosts” aren't working.

When you work on a computer, your short computer breaks don't really constitute a break. Sure, you're looking at something different, but there's nothing to really note that break. How long are you going to read that blog? How are you going to refocus your attention when you come back? Jonathan Milligan wrote a great post about how he doubled his productivity, in part by taking real breaks.

A real break is not reading blog posts, checking emil, or watching an educational video online. A “real” break for me is anything that is away from the computer.

Your brain reacts differently to a screen than to the rest of the world, that's why looking at TV, computer and phone screens before you go to sleep results in sleep deprivation. The same goes for breaks. If you want to give your brain a rest, let it do something different.

Step 1: Move one foot, Step 2: Move other foot

If you want a break that will actually help you focus on the task at hand, do something that requires you to stand up and move your body away from your desk. Go get a coffee. Walk around the block. Do some stretches.

Sometimes this can be a bit awkward in the middle of the day, so if you want to be more subtle, try just walking around the office. You can even pop by someone else's desk and get a few questions answered while you're at it.

The point is, a lot of productivity tips, like taking a break, end up being a distraction when they're not done properly. They leave you less productive than before. Why do more harm than good? Just take a moment to stop, get up, breathe, and take a real break.

Michael Elmgreen: Speeding through the Everyday Sales Process

Michael Elmgreen knows what makes salespeople tick. He's head of business development for Handshake, the top rated sales order platform in the App Store. Handshake is perfect for anyone  who has to process sales orders – it helps salespeople write faster, bigger orders, improve cash flow by yielding less time to order fulfillment, and reduce cost reductions by making fewer mistakes.

Selling for Salespeople

Michael is in the unique position of selling to salespeople – he understands what their challenges are, and Handshake truly addresses those challenges. Still, it's Michael's responsibility to make sure that customers are engaged and understand how to effectively use the product to solve the problem. He spent much of his time reaching out to new and potential customers, finding ways to engage them and help them get the most use out of Handshake.

There were two major challenges in Michael's workflow. First, it took forever to look up and email address, copy and paste his message, and tweak it for each customer and their company. Second, he had no way to track actual engagement with the email. Sending email was basically a giant, untraceable vacuum, with no way to improve his message.

Tout + Handshake: A Better Workflow

Michael started using Tout to increase the number of emails he could send each day, and he used the Tout browser extension to do it. He would take his list of emails, put them into a Google Doc, and started clicking and sending. Tout's CRM integration was perfect, too – when he used Tout, he had sent an engaging email and added a new, completed contact to his CRM, all in under a minute.

Tout helps us be more intelligent about customer outreach and follow-up, and to make sure we're delivering a message which is resonating with users. I also really like the CRM integration.

Michael also found that by using Tout, he could see which messages resonated with people – he has certainly taken advantage of Tout's open and link tracking to improve his message.

Tout helps you minimize duplicative work while maintaining personalization and human feel.

With a personal tone, the right timing, and effective follow up, Michael has created some seriously powerful messages. Some of his templates have over 90% engagement! Do you know how many people are connecting with what you're saying? Are you using email as a major workflow tool, without having any way to track it? If you're ready to send email quickly and gain visibility into the email vacuum, try Tout today.