Research has once again show what writers have instinctively known for years–letting your mind wander and spending a few minutes skiving can make you more productive.
    One of the latest surveys to hit the headlines is that for the National Bureau of Economic Research. It confirms previous studies, such as that by the University of Melbourne in 2011, that workers who mentally play truant to surf the web or daydream for up to 20 per cent of the time, become up to nine per cent more productive. It might look like wasting time, but taking a break actually enhances concentration, boosts morale, reduces tiredness and makes you happier. If you have a walk about and/or get a drink or something to eat as well, so much the better. There are limits, of course, but as Garrison Keillor puts it: "... the writing life requires freedom to waste time, to putter and daydream and browse through books with no goal in mind."
    Don't feel guilty if you give way to the temptation to check the celebrity gossip on Yahoo or to phone a friend. If you're going to take a break, take it and don't ruin the effect by trying to bully yourself back to work. Do set a time limit on it, however. Treat it like a cat nap–20 minutes is enough to help you return to your tasks refreshed and motivated; more and you become like a zombie.
    If you still feel guilty, try repeating these famous lines form William Henry Davies' poem 'Leisure': 'What is life if, full of care,/We have no time to stand and stare'. You could always fill your break with reading a short story or poem, then you can call it research.