"Take a Break"
By John Anderson
Technology is supposed to make juggling multiple
tasks and sorting through mountains of information easier, right? Well, it
can certainly help you work better and more efficiently, but what is happening
to all the free time you are supposedly saving? More often than not, it is
filled with more work that you wouldn’t have been able to do without
the help of those little electronic timesavers.
Have you ever tried to remember the title of the song you’ve been humming
all day but just can’t get it past the tip of your tongue? And then the
next day, out of the blue, it just pops right into your head. Your brain is
great at working at little things like that in the background while you focus
on more important things. It’s what helps us to multitask: stopping work
on one thing, working on another and then picking up where you left off. But
if you’re juggling too many things, your brain tends to hang on to those
extra thoughts, waiting for resolution. This can lead to difficulty concentrating
during the day and restless sleep while your mind ponders items to which you
never quite got around.
Welcome to the Future
Who would ever have thought the day would come when you could check messages
in the car, respond to e-mail while grocery shopping or check the latest stock
quotes at the beach? Working in a connected world is often accompanied by the
expectation that you are always on-call. But just because you can accomplish
just about anything from anywhere doesn’t always mean that you should.
Those gadgets that you rely on require energy
to work, and so do you. What happens when your batteries need to be recharged,
and how do you keep them from getting drained as quickly next time?
When concentrating on a task, let the answering machine record messages,
close the e-mail window and let the faxes sit in the machine.
||Create some boundaries:
Use those time-savers for that which they’re intended. If you keep
work at work, your family will thank you for it.
||Take a break: Take
breaks to organize your game plan. You will be able to more effectively
use the technology when you are rested.
||Not right now:
Just because e-mails can travel instantly doesn’t mean that you
need to respond to them immediately. Set aside a time or two every day
to devote to e-mail replies.
time away from your gadgets. Turn the cell phone off while eating dinner
or leave it behind while walking the dog. It will be there when you get
Using Your Computer the Healthy Way
We find ourselves stuck behind our desks for nearly the entire work day, which
can often stretch longer than we’d prefer. Many of these days are devoted
to staring at a PC screen. Here are some tips to help you fight fatigue and
stay healthy while using your computer.
Again, take a break: It is a good idea
to get up and walk around at least once an hour and refresh the eye muscles
by looking at distant objects as well as those up close. Free software is
available that will measure the time you are at your computer and suggest
when you should take a break (a kitchen timer works great, too).
Get a grip: Hold the mouse lightly in
the widest part of the hand with fingers resting lightly on the mouse buttons
so that a very small movement is needed to click a button. The arm or wrist
should be supported on the table or wrist rest, without stiffly extending
any fingers as this can lead to muscle strain. If you spend a lot of time
using the Internet, you should be aware of alternatives to a traditional
keyboard and mouse, such as ergonomic keyboards, voice-recognition systems,
trackerballs, handwriting recognition pads, finger pads and “mouse
pens”. You should be able to find them all at your local computer store.
Adjust your screen for proper brightness and contrast, and position it
to avoid glare from lights or windows. You should be looking down at
the screen, with the top of the screen roughly at eye-level.
||Wrist rests and
tilting keyboards: There are various types of wrist rests available which
can take the strain off the wrist when typing at a keyboard.
||What you are sitting
on: When using a computer, you should be able to sit upright on a chair
which gives some back support, keeping your arms roughly horizontal when
using a keyboard.
||Clear your desk:
There should be space on the computer table for the keyboard in front
of the monitor and for a wrist rest in front of the keyboard. Keep the
monitor well back from the front edge of the table. There should be enough
space on the computer table for a mouse mat, a notepad, paperwork and
CD-ROMs. A simple document-holder can be attached to the monitor to keep
paperwork off the work surface. A cluttered desk may place your hands
in awkward positions while trying to use the mouse and keyboard.
||Posture is key:
Posture is very important. Make sure you are not constantly leaning forward,
and keep the chin tucked-in. The back should be supported in an upright
position in the chair and the body should face forwards, not twisted
Don’t be tempted to add too many extension cables or double-socket
adapters to your existing electrical sockets.