Want to boost your productivity? Hit the movies during work, expert says

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Want to get more done? Try stepping back — way back — and maybe out to the movie theater during the workday.

At least, that's one productivity tip from Cal Newport, a Georgetown University professor and author of "Slow Productivity."

Newport's latest book aims to help people eliminate what he calls "pseudo productivity," or the performance of busyness, and to replace that effort with outcomes-based work. The latter, he says, is key to reducing burnout and producing more meaningful work.

"What matters is, what are you producing over time, and how good is the stuff you're producing?" Newport tells CNBC Make It. "When you make that switch from [prioritizing] activity in the moment to output over time, it really changes how you think about getting things done."

The basic principles of switching to slow productivity are to do fewer things, work at a natural pace and obsess over quality.

Newport says working at a natural pace is all about embracing the peaks and dips in your energy levels. He offers a few examples of how do to this, like protecting focused hours and holding no-meeting days on your calendar.

Another suggestion? Plan a trip to the movies during work once a month.

The case for the monthly matinee

As Newport writes, "In most office jobs, no one is going to notice if once every 30 days or so you're gone for an afternoon. If someone asks where you were, just say you had a 'personal appointment.' Which is true."

Of course, you have to be thoughtful about it, he adds. Block out your calendar well in advance so you don't leave co-workers in a bind, and make sure you're not missing something important. If a work emergency pops up during that week or day, be prepared to shift your mini-break.

Not everyone is going to be game for this strategy, least of all managers, Newport admits.

"Pseudo productivity says visible activity is a proxy for useful effort," he says. With this mindset, stepping away from the office is seen as harmful to the workplace.

Taking an outcomes-based mindset, however, is to understand that humans aren't equally productive at all hours of the workday, and that a break could benefit the final outcome later on (like in improved engagement or more creativity).

And what about the guilt factor? Americans are notoriously bad at taking their paid time off, whether it's vacations or offered sick time.

"We take time away from work for all sorts of things," like doctors appointments, Newport says, "it's just we don't see it as valid unless it's something that has some sort of commensurate amount of discomfort."

He offers this perspective: "It helps to remember all of the extra hours you've spent checking email in the evening or working on your laptop over the weekend. Missing the occasional weekday afternoon only balances this ledger."

Other ways to take a mini-break

You don't just have to be a cinephile to benefit, Newport adds. You could also try an afternoon visit to the museum or a hike. "The key observation here is that even a modest schedule of weekday escapes can be sufficient to diminish the exhaustion of an otherwise metronome-regular routine," he writes.

He also offers other ways to work at a more natural pace and maximize mini-breaks on the job, even if you can't physically get away from the office.

One is to hold your own no-meeting day each week.

Another is to schedule in your own rest projects: "After putting aside time on your calendar for a major work project, schedule in the days or weeks immediately following it time to pursue something leisurely and unrelated to your work," Newport writes.

You could also try working in cycles. Employees at Basecamp, for example, spend about six weeks working hard to accomplish a goal, followed by a two-week cooldown period where staffers recharge, fix small issues and decide what to tackle next.

You have to establish trust first

These mini-breaks, whether it's a trip to the movies or scheduling your own slow periods, don't work unless you're delivering what's expected of you at work, Newport says.

The biggest thing young workers, in particular, should focus on is becoming organized and gaining a reputation for being on top of things.

"Be visibly known as an organized person in the office that keeps track of their time and projects, delivers things when you say you're going to deliver things, and if it has to change, tell people" when you'll finish something.

"This will earn you a huge amount of autonomy of leverage going forward," Newport says.

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