Why an off-the-grid hour at work is so crucial

Why an off-the-grid hour at work is so crucial

Work email, checking social media, streaming video – technology can have toxic effects on your productivity and happiness. Here’s how you can kick the habit for an hour a day.

Sometimes, the difference between a productive day and time wasted can come down to an hour: an hour’s extra sleep, an hour’s exercise, or an hour’s deep work can have a profoundly positive impact on how you work and live. This January, we’re looking at ways to have a more productive year in a new series called Power of an Hour.

Last month, Apple introduced its ‘Screen Time’ feature, which lets users access real-time reports about how much time they spend on their devices.

Haven’t looked at it yet? You should. Whether you check Screen Time on your work or personal phone, your reaction will probably similar to mine: “Yikes!”

Many of us really do spend large chunks of time on our devices – computers, tablets, smartphones – both at home and at work, often without even realising it. On the job in particular, emails, notifications, internal messaging systems and the internet can take up huge parts of the day.

But this kind of technology can make us less productive, not more. That’s where daily, mini tech detoxes at work can help – even just for an hour.

The power of a (brief) tech detox

Studies have shown the bad effects tech obsessions can have on health, happiness and productivity: the screens strain our eyes. The 24/7 work messaging culture makes us depressed and stressed. The internet preys on our most obsessive and addictive tendencies.

In 2012 American researchers looked at email, perhaps the most pernicious and hated tech distraction of the 21st Century workplace. They put heart monitors on office workers and found that those who accessed email on the job, switching among multiple browser windows and applications, experienced higher heart rates and higher stress.

Of course, there’s no way to go fully off the grid. You can’t not check email at work. Ghosting on social media or flushing your phone down a metaphorical toilet is “abdicating responsibility for navigating the world we live in”, says Pamela Rutledge, a psychologist who specialises in media.

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