Small Business

How Stepping Away From Your Computer Can Actually Make You More Productive


Everyone makes mistakes when it comes to technology. Some are terrible at doing regular data back-ups because it's not a high priority (you know who you are). Many have hundreds (thousands?) of emails sitting in an inbox right now. And, as I've mentioned before, there are those who skip using any form of virus protection -- which means, you're living on a razor's edge.

Yet, there's one mistake you're probably making right now that is much more serious. It's one that could be causing serious health problems like depression and anxiety. And, someday -- in the not too distant future -- it could play a role in workplace lawsuits, new employment laws and technical restrictions.

The problem: You're not taking enough breaks from the computer.

Experts say this constant screen time is causing some major health issues. There's a condition called Screen Apnea where, as you stare at your screen, you literally stop breathing. As you anticipate the next email or news item, you hold your breath, cutting off oxygen to your brain. Related to this is a condition called Present Shock, which means you are constantly "in the moment" scanning for tweets, Facebook posts, and other tidbits. Having this constant flow of information can make you agitated, cause undo stress and even lead to depression.

Of course, long typing sessions and too much surfing are also not good for your health in general -- it means you're not getting up and moving around, your back is probably stiff, and you're not communicating with your coworkers.

Fortunately, there's a solution to this locked-in screen obsessiveness. First and foremost, become more aware of the problem in yourself. Take conscious breaks from the screen and go for a quick stroll. Look out the window or read a paper document. Constant clicking from one thing to the next can be stressful, so it's important to break that cycle.

Next, try to find some accountability. If your problem is that you stay glued to a daily news feed too much, find someone who can text you once in a while to meet up for a coffee break. Make a plan with a coworker to bug each other periodically as a way to break up your computer time.

Finally, there are quite a few apps that can help. There's one called Take A Break for the Chrome browser that flashes a little icon every 15 minutes as a reminder to stop surfing. A few tools help you measure your anxiety right from your desk. And, many smartphones come with a timer you can use to encourage a break or to set a reminder that alerts you about working for too many hours in a row.

More than anything, heed this warning: too much focus on the computer screen is becoming a serious problem, one that is not getting any better.

Does this tech problem hit close to home? How do you make sure you get screen breaks?

Before You Go

Copy Machines (13 percent)

13 Office Trends Disappearing In Next 5 Years