You know Sir Isaac Newton had his best idea while sitting in a garden, right? If you really must work this bank holiday, then at least follow these five tips for working smarter, not harder. Then take yourself outside for a well-earned break. It’ll do you (and your business) good.

So, everyone else is heading for the beach or firing up the barbecue, but you’ve decided to spend this bank holiday sitting at your desk. Here are some tips for doing what you need quickly so you can kick back and relax with your nearest and dearest.

Don’t be a martyr

As you sit down in front of your computer screen ask yourself: do I really need to be here? Probably not, if you don’t have a pressing deadline to meet.

It’s what called the “martyr complex”, where people feel they have to work. But there’s evidence that all work and no play can make Jack (or Gill) not only dull, but also ill. Taking time off helps people to lower their blood pressure, improve their sleep and manage stress levels better, a study by Nuffield Health charity has shown .

Many entrepreneurs say they enjoy pressure, but chronic stress could lead you to burn out or make bad decisions that could harm your business. So do yourself a favour – go out.

Are you a hard worker or a smart worker?

If you are working this bank holiday because some tasks have spilled over from the week before, then you probably aren’t as productive as you could be. If you feel like there are simply too many things to do in a day, then just get rid of some of them. There are plenty of people who love doing the jobs you hate, such as virtual personal assistants or book keepers who you can hire for a few hours each week or month.

Also, remember the mantra of today’s self-employed new professional: is there an app for that? For example, Mint allows you to record your expenses, create budgets and keep track of your savings from your phone.

Make a (short) to-do list

If you must work, then make a list of what you really need to do in order of their importance. Don’t fritter the day away on minor tasks. Set yourself a strict time limit for achieving your tasks, and finish working when you’ve got to the bottom of your to-do list. Resist the temptation to make a start on Tuesday’s tasks, even if you’re ahead of schedule. After all, everyone will be back at work then.

Switch off to switch on

You’re sitting down to work, full of purpose and enthusiasm, when… ping! A new message arrives. You click on it and start to read. Before you know it, you’ve become sidetracked.

Multi-tasking is the modern condition, but it is actually less productive than performing one task at a time, while those who multi-task have difficulty in paying attention, recalling information and moving from one task to another, research by Stanford University has shown.

Worse, flipping from your smartphone to your computer and tablet could actually be shrinking your brain, according to a study by Sussex University.

Face it, how many important emails will you get on a bank holiday? So switch off those gadgets and get out of the office.

Change your scene

Some of the best ideas come when we least expect them – especially when away from our desks. Getting out and about can help fire your imagination, so you return to work on Tuesday brimful of new business ideas. Philippe Starck retreats to an isolated log cabin to do his creative thinking. You don’t need to go that far, although the Great Outdoors is a brilliant place to get inspiration. Remember Sir Isaac Newton had his best idea while sitting in a garden. Why not see if there’s an equally enlightening garden near you?

The National Trust is holding plenty of events at its properties across the country. Or why not go travelling? Einstein’s theory of relativity came to him while sitting on a tram. Perhaps you can come up with a similar mind-bending theory at the National Tramway Museum in Matlock.

Taking your mind off work can help to free your mind. Going to a museum, the Design Museum for example, and looking at other people’s moments of genius could help fire your imagination.

You might even have a brainwave during a game of badminton, or a eureka moment while out for a run. Exercise is a brilliant stress buster and a good way to shake up those grey cells. Try it.

So, will you be working or wandering this bank holiday? Been inspired to give your brain a break? As always, let us know in the comments…