We're all addicted to tech. After long work days with eyes glued to glowing computer screens, dazed workers across the country depart office buildings with smart phones or iPods in hand. They return home and trade in one device for another, turning on the TV and Xbox 360, booting up a computer, or switching on their iPads. According to a survey of more than 1,200 American adults, over thirty percent of us spend more than seven hours a day on electronic screens.
But there comes a time when we need to take a break from tech and unplug -- yes, even the techiest among us.
A recent study by the University of California, Irvine, found that those who do not regularly check email during the work day are less stressed and more productive.
Professor Gloria Mark, who co-authored the study, suggested certain strategies, such as batching emails (sending them directly to folders) and email vacations, to help email users take a break and focus on their work.
And sure, there's the National Day of Unplugging, but is it enough to take an offline break only once a year?
Probably not. But in a world that revolves around technology, it's difficult to take a break from all of our devices. Check out the gallery below to see our list of eight ways to use tech to take a break from tech and kick yourself offline.
Set an alarm on your smartphone or tablet to restrict computer time and induce offline breaks. Or, if you're using a Mac, try out TrackTime to monitor how long you've spent using certain programs or apps -- it even tracks your iTunes listening habits. RescueTime will also monitor how you're spending (or wasting) time online and help you get smart about how you browse the web, such as by highlighting inefficiencies in how you spend your day. If you are in need of something to keep occupied, try reading a book -- preferably not on an e-reader, but one of those paper thingies you remember from childhood. (Image via Flickr, Tim Lossen)
Do you really need to know the exact second you get a message? Turn off Gmail and Outlook pop-ups and instead check your emails in batches, intermittently throughout the day. For example, work for 45 minutes or an hour, then tend to your inbox (check out more Gmail tips here and here). Try doing the same for other apps that flash, bounce, or ding when you receive a message, such as AOL Instant Messenger, or TweetDeck. Instead of constantly having one eye on them, turn to them occasionally to catch up on what you missed. it can almost certainly wait. Apps and plug-ins such as Stay Focused, Nanny for Google Chrome, LeechBlock , Think, and FocusBooster can help you stop yourself from constantly refreshing your Facebook feed, checking on your inbox, or scrolling through your Twitter feed.
Spend some time organizing your email mailbox with color-coded labels and numerous filters. Send regular or daily emails updates that you do not need to read to a folder separate from your regular inbox. These emails are still there for you to peruse, but will not be starring you in the face in your inbox and tempting you to read every. Single. One. (Image via Flickr, Kristie Wells)
Instead of checking your phone every time it vibrates, disable your notifications. Then, check your phone intermittently throughout the day, reviewing your messages in batches. (Image via Flickr, Karn Sakulsak)
Log out of your social networking sites on your computer and close any and all social networking client apps, such as TweetDeck or HootSuite, in order to reduce the urge to do a quick check. If your Facebook addiction is unrelenting try a browser extension, such as Strict Pomodoro or Anti-Social, that will block the site, and others you check incessantly, while you're working.
They exist! There are several tools, such as Freedom and Self-Control, that block certain sites on your PC or Mac for a set period of time. The only way to break the lock while the program is running is to reboot the system, which, as we all know, is pretty annoying. For more ideas, check out the99percent's guide to "10 Online Tools for Better Attention & Focus."
Go one step further and disconnect your social networking sites from your phone or tablet in order to dissuade you from regularly checking them during the day. (Image via Flickr, Rob Enslin)