“Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.”
—Marcus Tullius Cicero
This sage advice from Cicero applies to so many aspects of modern life – technology, screen time, and multitasking. Constantly being connected can cause anxiety and may prevent deep thought.
A recent study from the University of Michigan found that multitasking can fatigue the brain, which causes it to lose the ability to focus. Your brain needs a rest from multitasking.
Imaging studies have found that major cross-sections of the brain are surprisingly active during downtime. Just as plugging in and logging on is a habit, taking a break from it should become a habit too. If you are not accustomed to taking breaks, it may take practice but it’s well worth it.
Here are some suggestions for making the break:
- Challenge yourself to the 20-20-20 rule. After 20 minutes of computer use, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Say no to multitasking and allow yourself to do one thing at a time. Pick up the phone or walk to a coworker’s desk to ask a question instead of instant messaging or emailing.
- Consider making your next vacation technology-free. It may result in a level of relaxation and free-flowing ideas that you never imagined possible.
- Be a part of nature. Go where cell phones don’t work and there is no internet.
- Start slowly. Create time each day, say 30 to 60 minutes, for no interruptions. For example, turn off technology an hour before bed or right before working out.
- Include the whole family. Limit children’s time on technology. Declare a TV-Turnoff Week, with small prizes at the end of each day and the week.
- Practice mapping a destination, instead of using the GPS.
- Go for a walk or jog without headphones; invite another person to go with you.
- Turn off notifications so you are not tempted to plug in.
- Set aside time for social networking.
- Move apps away from your home screen to avoid constant interruptions.
Feel the freedom of single tasking. This means being comfortable working on one thing at a time, which helps sharpen focus and produce a higher quality, uninterrupted output. Balance is the key. While it is important to be plugged in sometimes, it is equally important to recognize that there is a world beyond the screens surrounding you.