Signed, Sealed, Logged Off: The Importance of Technology BreaksJessica Tholmer

I just got an iPhone you guys. Barely a week ago, I finally gave up my old not-so-smart phone for the phone. I have an obsession, like beyond anything I have experienced since the first time I saw Titanic in the movie theater and then never stopped watching it ever. My phone has not left my hand for a week. Having an iPhone has made everything more interesting–all of a sudden I care about the pictures of my friends’ kids again, and I apparently care what everyone is eating for breakfast? I “like” more Facebook statuses, and I repost a whole lot more on tumblr. That is just the way it is.

As if unplugging wasn’t hard enough with my previous phone. As if being home without my laptop on next to me–you know, to refresh Google Drives, like or dislike songs on Pandora or even reference a picture of a person instead of just reminding my roommate that she has met said person. Remember that? Conversations without technology? Do you remember those?

A recent study posted on Fast Company may be unsurprising to you, yet it is still very interesting: you should “unplug” every 90 minutes of your life. Why?

Human beings are organisms, not machines, Leo Widrich explains, which means that we move in a cycle. To be at our utmost functionality, human beings should work in the rhythm of that cycle. And to do all of that–because we are all well aware that focus is an impossibility so often throughout our days–we need to give our brains a good ol’ break.

That’s right. I am basically giving you permission to take it easy every hour and a half! This is huge.

Nathan Kleitman, Sleep Researcher (cool job, I kinda want it) explains that the “basic rest-activity cycle” is the aforementioned 90 minute cycle human beings experience throughout not only our sleep, but throughout our waking days as well. This cycle is also known as the “ultradian rhythm.”

Widrich’s work has been studied by various other sources, likely to help human beings understand why it is actually vital to our creativity to not just ignore the rest every 90 minutes. It is not, as Tom Gibson explains, something to “get over,” but instead, something to focus on, comprehend, and utilize.

Gibson claims that “we need to understand that ‘on’ is impossible without ‘off,’ and that the distance between the two needs to be made closer: like the beats of a heart or the steps of a runner.”

I personally could not agree with the study more, and I challenge you (and myself, good grief!) to incorporate a few more breathers throughout your day. Our generation in particular (I’m pretty much 26, for the record) needs to push ourselves toward the idea of stepping outside–cellphone-less and away from our computer screens–much more often throughout the day. Yes, I work a retailish job, and I cannot always have a break in my eight hour work day, but I do get breaks.

On my breaks, I spend time texting my friends back, catching up on Twitter, checking my email and if all of that runs out, I end up on IMDB looking up movie quotes or something. I won’t pretend that responding to text messages isn’t the most important thing in my life, but once that is all said and done, stepping outside and letting my brain grow, letting the rays (or in my PNW case, the raindrops) hit my skin a bit is not just a good idea, it could potentially be vital to my success as a super genius.

You know how they say sprinting, then walking, then sprinting, then walking is good for you? Well, focusing, and then resting, focusing, and then resting is good for you in the same way. Work hard, at a computer or otherwise, and then rest. Really rest. Stretch your legs, smile at a stranger’s face, not just their Instagram pictures, and then get back to the daily grind.

Every 90 minutes is probably doable, yeah? Make it work for your day.

Sigh, now I’ve been writing this for awhile, so I think I’ll take a break. How often do you unplug? How often are you going to try?

Featured image via ShutterStock

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