By Eileen McDargh
Last week, my big
desktop PC crashed, my laptop got the "blue screen: of death". The
refrigerator croaked, and the toaster oven went the heaven. My
I-phone decided to stop receiving e-mail and the dashboard in my car
kept erroneously sending warning messages. It wasn't even a
As marvelous as all
our technology is, chronic malfunctions and crashes and the constant
demand to keep up might account for the fact that at least one in
four of us will admit to physically assaulting a device. There's
even a ratio for judging the attack because the chances of failure
are in direct proportion to the urgency of the task they are needed
for. Hence the scream heard from my assistant as she tried to get
out my summer newsletter before autumn.
It doesn't get
better. The 2009 March/April issue of Psychotherapy Networker says
that such chronic, unalleviated stress compromises our cognitive and
emotional functions as well as undermining our immune system. Nor
does it when a workplace (often unknowingly) contrives urgency by
leashing employees with PDAs, laptops, pagers, and anything else for
instant access and response.
And ultimately a timewaster and a driver of increased health care
costs. What happens is that we continually try to multitask,
toggling back and forth, answering the ping of instant messages, and
wind up feeling constantly "on". Instead of concentrating on one
task, we unconsciously scan for the next message or task, thus
spending often 50% more time on one job before taking on another.
Ways to conquer the
energy not your time. You don't run marathons every day yet we
try and do the equivalent at our work. Studies of energy
suggest a 90-minute rhythm. This means stopping and doing
something to recovers your energy expenditure. (Coffee and
chocolate don't count. Nor does smoking). Take a 4-minute
relaxation break. Walk outside, deep breath, trying biofeedback.
Go outside. Drink water. And when it's time-go home without
computer to delete messages after 30 days. If no one has
screamed by then, how important could it be?
Send out the
equivalent of a "do not disturb" sign, telling folks you will
respond from 3-4pm daily. If it's an emergency-call you.
Turn off rings,
pings, dings, and anything that sings.
between uninterrupted work time and answer time.
Work with your
team to determine the important and urgent from the unimportant.
Cut the cord.
If you continue to remain connected all the time-you have only
yourself to blame with the constant barrage of requests.
At the end of
the day, reset to zero. You did what you could. It's done. Over.
Finito. Do not plan tomorrow today. Your brain will start
working on it and there goes the sleep.
Shut the door
of your office. Turn off the computer. Reset to zero. Tomorrow
is a new day.
Do not take the
PDA to bed with you. Give it a rest. Give all of us a rest.
Tyrannosaurus Techno will win again.
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