This morning, the New York Times gave business people everywhere a little separation anxiety when they suggested that we all step away from their tech devices. Then, our sister-site Blisstree spelled out how late-night web-surfing and cable-browsing can lead to depression. It all started adding up to a very clear picture: We need to take a break from technology. And while I appreciate all the research and information that went in to those articles, I could’ve figured that out without reading a single word. How am I so knowledgeable?
Yesterday, I spent the whole day away from my computer and cell phone. I didn’t do a single minute of work. (I missed you guys, though!) I didn’t even respond to urgent email. And I went to bed before 2am for the first time in months.
That’s right, I’m a stress insomniac. At night, I like to tell my husband that I need time to “empty my mind out” before I crawl in to bed. This normally requires hours of reading, browsing or zoning out to So You Think You Can Dance. Head-clearing time just isn’t an excuse. On the rare occasion that I do try to lay down before any time of escapist or mind-numbing activity, I lay around for hours on end, running over work issues or conversations in my head. I get an idea, then I have to run to computer and make a note of it. I find inspiration and spend half the night writing.
Even though I don’t work 80-hours a week, I’ve begun to sleep like I do. My average is probably four hours a night. Last night, after my first day off in months (I even work weekends), I got eight and a half hours. It was heavenly. And that single night of rest perfectly demonstrated what these two pieces were showing me. My computer and I could use a time-out.
The problem, of course, is that most of us don’t feel like we can afford to be disconnected from our professional universe. With the 24/7 push of the corporate world, we cannot fathom missing an important memo, falling behind on the news headlines or going silent on social media. But that single day off showed me just how much can be gained when professionals make the decision to exist outside the tech world, just for a day. Even Silicon Valley, the capital of Tech, realizes the benefits of unplugging.
As the Times reports,
“If you put a frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, it’ll boil to death — it’s a nice analogy,” said Mr. Crabb, who oversees learning and development at Facebook. People “need to notice the effect that time online has on your performance and relationships.”
Yup, I was that frog. And my sanity was boiling to death. I don’t know if I’d call the analogy “nice,” but that doesn’t stop it from being accurate.
Here at The Grindstone, we realize that some jobs require you to work 100-hour weeks. We know the type of stress that entails. We even want you to look like a normal, well-rested human being while you’re accomplishing that amazing feat. But we’d also like to remind you to slow down. Unplug. Turn off that computer, iPhone or television. Everyone from Silicon Valley to mental health professionals to your friendly neighborhood blogger can tell you just how important it is.