FEBRUARY 2013: Nobody likes working with computers and devices more than us frogs, but if you want to keep leaping along at an awesome pace, you need to take a break from technology sometimes. Your brain will thank you, your sense of accomplishment will thank you and, yes, your boss will thank you, too. Productivity plummets without breaks, and can cause something unpleasant that researchers call “catastrophic errors.”
In fact, studies prove that prolonged continuous work reduces cognitive function to the equivalence of being legally drunk. Chances are your boss wants you sober.
Studies also show you’ll like your job (and your life) better when you take breaks — a happy frog is a productive frog!
But it’s not so easy to take a break, especially from our beloved smartphones. In a recent survey, for example, smartphone users (especially iPhone users) were more willing to give up their shoes, toothbrushes and sex for a week rather than give up their device.
Here are three things you can do to take a break from technology and get MORE done:
1. Get up. Stretch your legs. And your arms, neck, shoulders and back. Physically move away from your device. If you can, go breathe some fresh air. Deep breaths feed your brain the oxygen that it craves because when you’re working on screens (and multitasking), you often take shallow breaths and even hold your breath periodically.
2. Use a pen or pencil.
When you switch from focusing on a screen to writing analog-style, you avoid distractions from alerts, bouncing icons, calendars and other things that keep your mind from operating at its peak.
3. Look away. It takes a lot of energy to focus on a screen continually. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that adding four or five 5-minute breaks to the traditional two 15-minute breaks at work reduces “computer vision syndrome” (did you know it had a name?) and increased data entry speed. Doctors also recommend you adopt the 20-20-20 rule: look away every 20 minutes to look at something about 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Note: Looking “away” doesn’t mean switching devices!