How to get ahead at work—from outside of the office

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You put in extra hours, offer to help on special projects, and even volunteer to bake the cake for your co-workers’ birthdays—and yet, you still have yet to be promoted.

But what if the secret to a promotion, higher productivity levels, and even a salary raise was as simple as stepping away from your computer? It turns out that pushing yourself with long hours and limited OOO-time in an effort to move up that corporate ladder is actually the opposite of what you should be doing. (Cue collective cheer!)

From taking that mid-morning coffee break to booking that vacation you’ve been dreaming about, the things you try to avoid in the hopes of avoiding judgment from your boss are actually the keys to success—seriously, there’s science to back this up.

Scroll down to see three brilliant science-backed ways to boost your career.

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1. Use all of your vacation days

In a study conducted by Project: Time Off, workers who took more vacation days ended up with higher paychecks. That’s a serious win-win. Considering that 55 percent of us don’t use all of our allotted vacation days, there’s a lot of room for improvement (and raises!). Your employer is paying you to take those days off—so seriously, take them.

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2. Take coffee breaks (or green juice or matcha or…)

No matter what kind of work you’re doing, it’s important to remember to interrupt your work with a lot of breaks—really. A study at the University of Illinois found that prolonged attention to a single task actually hurts your performance. So when you’re staring at that spreadsheet for hours or poring over endless emails, you are more likely to make mistakes, which definitely won’t help in that pursuit of a promotion.

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3. Stop checking your emails

Getting more rest would help anyone succeed at work—more sleep, more energy the next day, right? But a vital key to perfecting your nighttime routine is putting away all devices at least 30 minutes before sleep, explains Huffington Post co-founder and editor in chief (and sleeping expert) Arianna Huffington. That way your mind is able to shut down and refresh, leaving you rejuvenated the next day. And this isn’t just a suggestion. In fact, the New York Times reports that in a study of nearly 400 employees, researchers found that sleeping too little—i.e. less than six hours each night—was one of the best predictors of on-the-job burnout.

Now that you’re on your way to the top, check out the five surprising ways that these inspirational #girlbosses power their careers. 

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