While fresh out of uni and only just embarking on my first ‘proper job’, I’m already becoming acquainted with the onset of fatigue that comes with working in an online environment. If you work in the field I’m sure you’ll know the feeling – staring at a computer screen all day is bound to leave your brain at least a little frazzled.
If you’re in the office now I’m sure you can glance around and pick up on the tell-tale signs. The getting up to make that umpteenth cup of tea. The compulsive hitting of refresh on Gmail and Tweetdeck on the off chance that something has happened in the last two minuets. The surreptitious checking of Facebook when you think no one’s watching. Did you know that low productivity directly correlates with the level of mush your brain has been reduced to due to over-exposure to the Internet? Fact.
Not that there’s any respite from the toxic and hazardous reach of the Internet. Thanks to the latest technological revolution there is virtually no escape from the Web – the latest figures show that the number of Internet users worldwide has risen from a paltry 360,985,492 to 2,405,518,376 since the year 2000. That’s over a third of the earth’s population.
While this growing migration online has had a huge impact on many of our working lives, revolutionising industries left right and centre, worse still is its effect on our personal time. I bet you couldn’t look me in the eye and tell me you’ve never been the even a little bit addicted to your smart phone at one point or another, the insatiable Internet fiend inside you ever hungry for the latest meme or cat video (the beauty of the Internet being there is always something you haven’t seen yet).
So we’re online at work. And let’s face it, we’re always online at home. So when do we get to unwind properly? It seems we can’t enjoy anything – lunch, the theatre, a holiday – without constantly letting our hundreds of vague online acquaintances know HOW MUCH FUN WE ARE HAVING. LOOK. (The upshot of this of course being serious life envy – ‘why aren’t I in Corfu?’)
Even on my recent holiday it seemed impossible to simply switch off and experience my time there through anything other than an iPhone lens.
Maybe Dave is dead?
After 8 hours on a plane flying to America, we’re all suffering from serious withdrawal symptoms. You need us to keep our phones turned off so we don’t disrupt the plane’s equipment? Screw the plane – I need to Instagram this stunning picture I took of the sun setting on the clouds as we flew over Sweden, and Twitter is currently being deprived of my witty commentary on airline food. #whatISthedeal?
As soon as we landed, the screech of the tyres on the runway was met almost immediately by the sound of two hundred iPhones booting up. But what were we really bothered about? It’s not like anything exciting is happening – like Dave getting engaged.
Saying that… what if he is? Him and Katie have been pretty good lately. Or what if he died? Is Dave dead? Dave is definitely dead. People will never forgive me if I miss the funeral.
I wonder if Helen’s had her baby yet?
And so on.
Before we know it, the holiday’s over and we’re back at Manchester Airport feeling like we’d never left. A huge waste of time.
Cut the wire
Once a year at Copify, IMAP is disabled, smart phone is confiscated and your laptop is locked in the office safe (I’m not sure where the safe is, but I’ve been told there is one).
We not only unplug, but we cut the wire completely. You have taken the red pill and are out of the matrix.
You’re then sent away and left to your own devices for two weeks. Cold turkey.
When you work in a small team and the “brain frazzle” happens at regular intervals, unplugging once in a while to maintain long term productivity is wise. For your health, it’s vital. Think of it as a cleansing detox – for your mind.
The first two days are hard. You may never know the latest news on the royal baby. How can you fully appreciate your lunch without anyone else admiring it? Your normally over-active brain is now forced to think about things that don’t fit in to 140 characters. Can I really do this? Will my fingers stop fidgeting?
Frankie says relax
After a week of craving, your brain is close to full reset. As a test, try and do some simple arithmetic in your head, or count the number of people you’ve actually spoken to in person that day. Feels good, huh?
Unplugging can seem scary, impossible even. But give it a go, and take comfort in the fact soon you’ll be back in the office, three monitors blazing, obsessively bashing the “Get Mail” button and dominating Candy Crush in your lunch break.