American business travelers1 multi-task more than their global peers, which can trigger a domino effect of creative suppression, according to a first-of-its-kind global survey produced by Marriott Hotels. Yet, the solution could be just a few deep breaths away –travelers reported that a brief recharge boosted productivity and their best work occurs during disconnected moments.

A survey from Marriott Hotels was fielded with 7,500 business travelers across nine global markets, including the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, China, Germany, Australia, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Key survey findings include:

To-do lists – thought to streamline focus – might actually be counterproductive.

Survey results showed 71 percent of global respondents said trying to complete everything on their to-do lists actually distracts them from focusing on what is really important, suggesting to-do lists might be holding travelers back instead of propelling them towards success. This proves especially true among US respondents, with 77 percent agreeing with this statement.

Americans are multitasking more than any other country – but across the globe, inspiration and creativity are fleeting.

Nearly 70 percent of global respondents estimated they spend at least one hour a day multitasking. US respondents were found to be most prone to multitasking; this statistic rose to 80 percent for them, only 1 percent said they do not multitask, and 44 percent said they spend three or more hours per day multitasking. Conversely, Mexican and Chinese respondents were the least prone to multitasking, with just 57 percent and 56 percent of them respectively estimating that they do so for at least one hour a day.

While multitasking trends are evidently varied among the countries surveyed, its implications appear to be consistent among travelers everywhere. 83 percent of global respondents believe that not having time to clear their minds negatively impacts their creativity and 81 percent believe it negatively impacts their ability to be inspired.

The "lightbulb" moment travelers everywhere crave can be recovered with just 15 minutes of clearing the mind.

By giving into distractions and choosing to multitask, travelers worldwide are taking away time that is otherwise necessary to relax, unwind and open the mind. Travelers are recognizing this problem; over half of global respondents (51 percent) said that if they had an additional 15 minutes in their day, they would devote it to clearing their minds – significantly higher than those who said they would use it to check/send emails (32 percent), or even spend time with friends and family (46 percent). Moreover, 40 percent of the global travelers surveyed think the amount of time they need to relax and get into the right mindset to be creative is 15-30 minutes, showing that even just a short moment of pause can have a positive impact on both personal and professional performance.

When travelers do give themselves the headspace to think – the benefits are obvious.

The survey clearly showed the benefits of getting into this clear mind state.

• 80 percent of global respondents agreed inspiration often comes from a moment of pause

• 62 percent said taking time to relax and clear the mind resulted in finding clarity on a problem

• 50 percent of respondents said a clear mind allows them to set new goals

• 84 percent of respondents believe they are most productive when they take a moment of pause during the day to relax and recharge

Despite these obvious benefits though, 70 percent of global travelers surveyed say on most days they find it difficult to relax and clear their minds, and 74 percent say their daily routine leaves them very little time to relax and reflect.

"Marriott Hotels knows our guests are motivated, busy individuals, and that they produce their best work when they can open their minds to inspiration," said Julius Robinson, Senior Vice President, Classic Premium Brands, Marriott International. "Our survey results reinforce this insight by highlighting the importance of disconnecting from our daily distractions and to-do lists – even for just a short period of time – in order to reach that ideal frame of mind and create space to think."

*Additional background on the study: 7,588 respondents ages 25-54 from the United States, Australia, China, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom, all of whom have taken three or more trips for business requiring an overnight hotel stay in the past year as well as one or more leisure trips requiring an overnight hotel stay in the past year. Respondents were 53 percent male, 47 percent female.