Using Social Media While You Work May Not be So Bad After All

Science shows that taking microbreaks can boost your productivity

Andrew Macrae
4 min readApr 28, 2020
Photo by Carlos Lindner on Unsplash

I’ve had this theory for a while that checking my social media feeds while I’m working isn’t that bad for me.

It gives my brain tiny, regular breaks from the task at hand. The small doses of refreshment provide little boosts when I’m working on difficult problems and finding it hard to concentrate.

These breaks also give me access to a state of semi-distraction that lets me come at things obliquely.

But am I just trying to justify my bad habits? I’m also a big believer in the main argument in Cal Newport’s Deep Work (affiliate link): that we need large, uninterrupted blocks of time to do our best and most effective work.

How can we reconcile these two points of view, and what does the science say about microbreaks and oblique approaches to productivity?


There’s plenty of evidence to suggest digital distraction is harmful when we allow it to intrude into our work in the form of alerts and notifications that interrupt us.

But when we’re controlling the breaks, it’s a different story. A number of studies point to the benefits of…



Andrew Macrae

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