Technology

Taking a Break From This Draining Activity Could Help Boost Your Focus and Energy

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Spending most of the day in front of her computer screen left Randi Levin bleary-eyed and chronically exhausted. But a simple tweak to her daily routine revitalized her get-up-and-go and changed her entire life! Here’s how taking “tech vacations” can help you, too.

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Randi Levin pushed back her desk chair and rubbed her eyes. The Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 60-year-old life coach had been sitting in front of her computer for eight hours. I can’t even see straight anymore, she sighed. She had promised friends she’d join them in a Zoom get-together after work, and she’d really been looking forward to it. But I’m just too wiped out, she thought. Frustrated and disappointed, she returned to her computer and shut it down.

Randi began her company, Randi Levin Coaching, seven years ago, and for the past five years, she’d been counseling clients virtually from her home. She would spend mornings in video coaching sessions, but balanced screen time with in-person speaking engagements, networking events, and socializing after hours. Then the pandemic hit and, suddenly, her whole life — work and entertainment — was being lived through her computer.

As a transitional life strategist helping people deal with major life changes, Randi thought she could easily adjust to her new life situation. But after a couple of weeks, spending so much time staring at her screen began to take a toll. She had trouble focusing and was too drained to take part in online networking or conferences after work hours. I have to find a way to reboot myself before I completely burn out, she realized.

About a month into the spring quarantine, Randi decided to take a day off. She avoided her computer and other types of screens. She worked out, read, wrote in her journal … and it worked wonders. The next day, she felt dramatically more awake and alert.

Maybe I should add unplugging to my daily to-do list, Randi thought, amazed.

A Simple Life Reboot

Being self-employed, Randi was lucky to be able to set her own schedule. She decided to take some time for herself in the morning and start client video meetings at 11 am. And when she did start working, she took several little “tech vacations.” She’d go downstairs and drink a cup of coffee, play with the dog, or just open the door and breathe in some fresh air.

When she returned to her desk, Randi found she was able to concentrate better. She had energy to attend and participate in online meetings and even enjoyed connecting with friends on Zoom later at night. Soon, Randi began tweaking her weekend schedule too, blocking off only small amounts of time to watch favorite TV shows and movies instead of holding two-day binge-a-thons. She filled her time with screen-free creative projects, writing, doing puzzles, reading, chatting with friends on the phone, and even taking naps.

Randi has found her mini “tech vacations” so invigorating that she plans to continue taking them even after the pandemic ends. She realizes not everyone can unplug as often as she does, but stresses that even little breaks from screen time can have a huge impact. “It eases eyestrain, restores creativity, and, during these frustrating times, refreshes perspective,” she says. “It’s such a great, simple way to reboot yourself.”

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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