If you stumbled on this blog post, you have my permission and encouragement to logout, and/or turn off the screen, and walk away for at least five minutes.
Five minutes feels like a really long time in a world that runs on nanoseconds.
We all know the consequences of not taking breaks, but I think we feel guilty about taking them, myself included. It’s ironic that we respect our technologies’ needs to recharge (the phone, the computer, the tablet), but neglect our own.
But after hours of pushing ourselves harder, and staring at a screen–producing words, code, computations or other content, we become fatigued.
And it reveals itself pretty quickly. We start to get sloppy–we leave out words or punctuation, compose fragments, write information that contradicts a previous paragraph; we produce incomplete code syntax; or miscalculate numbers.
We’re tired. Tired of looking at a screen–optometrists call it computer vision syndrome. Maybe we’re also malnourished, dehydrated or both, maybe we’re sleep-deprived, and just tired in general. Any task that is repetitive or bores us on some levels seems to take that much longer to complete.
We can only play the denial game so long with another swig of energy serum, drip coffee, espresso, soda or a carbonated energy drink.
So take that five minutes. The American Optometric Association (AOA) actually recommends 15 minutes away from the screen (“off”) for every 2 hours looking at a screen (“on”).
And don’t hit send or submit just yet. It’s a relief, but it’s only short term. Hitting send or submit our work before taking a break is likely to guarantee some embarrassment in the very near future. We return from the break are met with an agitated coworker’s response (see the link for etiquette hell’s messageboard), or our mistakes have been pointed out by someone else in another way. Just because we want to be done, it doesn’t mean we are done.
So take that break. When you return, you’ll be amazed at what you notice when you turn the screen back on, and log back in. I always am.