The human brain is an amazing organ, capable of operating at average speeds of 100 Hz per second, with over 10 billion neurons firing at once in a very efficient manner. While this is a bit slower than the standard operating system of a computer or mobile device, most people find it increasingly important to utilize technology to augment their normal workday. Multi-tasking for eight hours a day seems like the norm for millions of working professionals.
Is all this digital connectivity really making work better, or could it be causing distractions that make humans less productive?
Several studies have been released in the last few years that indicate workers are more productive when they limit the distractions caused by too many digital connections. These distractions include email, cell phones, texting, and Internet use. There are droves of people who are addicted to digital technology and cannot go even a few hours without access to their email or social networks. We live in a society that requires us to stay “plugged in” 24/7. For some, however, this has become an actual mental disorder that damages the delicate balance between productivity and complete burnout at work.
Ten Reasons to Disconnect from Digital Technology
Among the scientific and medical community, there is growing evidence that supports the notion of unplugging for better brain function and ultimately, better productivity. Let’s take a look at ten good reasons to take a break from all that digital technology, at least for the next five minutes of your life.
- Helps comprehension and memory. A New York Times article revealed that, “heavy multi-taskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information.” Additionally, those who stay plugged in all the time often experience more anxiety and stress.
- Better for your physical and mental well-being. When people remain plugged in all the time, they tend to become less concerned with their physical and mental health, and more concerned with what’s going on in their email inbox, their social networks, and their online communities.
- Reduces your dependency on technology. Nora Volkow, leading Brain Scientist and the director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, stated that, “technology is rewiring our brains.” Volkow likens digital stimulation to the appeal of sex, drugs, and food.
- Restores interpersonal relationships. If you find yourself checking your emails while at dinner with the family, or falling asleep holding your cell phone, you may be heading for relationship trouble. Take this time to connect with your friends and family, not the iPhone.
- Gives your mind time to rest. Just like your body, your overworked brain needs some downtime too. Taking time out of your day to disconnect from all the noise that your workday produces, and reducing your use of digital technology before bedtime is vital to brain health.
- Improves task management. You may think that a computer driven project or task management system is better at keeping track, but you may also be wrong. Taking the time to develop more collaborative project teams means communicating on a human level.
- Enhances communication skills. Instead of engaging in mindless video games or surfing the Net, take the time to pick up the phone and call someone important in your life. There’s a reason why there is an entire generation of people who only speak in text terms instead of connecting through meaningful dialogue.
- Builds brain development. Today, the average person consumes 12 hours of media a day coming from the Internet, TV and radio transmissions. Scientists know that a human brain continues to develop throughout adulthood, therefore overstimulation can lead to brain development problems.
- Single-tasking is better. In a 2004, Stanford University study, participants who were asked to multi-task performed worse than those who worked on single tasks at a time. This groundbreaking research led to the conclusion that chronic multi-taskers actually struggle with performance at seemingly simple tasks.
- 10. Prevents distraction related accidents and errors. It’s common knowledge that digital technology can be highly distracting on a daily basis, with multiple warnings about its use. Unplugging while engaging in other activities, especially driving, can prevent distraction related events and errors from occurring at work and at home.
If you are struggling with digital technology distraction or you believe that you may need help to unplug, there are resources to assist you, such as reSTART, a technology addiction treatment organization; and Psych Central, a self-help website filled with information about digital addiction.
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