Work Unplugged: 3 Ways Brain Rest Leads to Greater Productivity

Article author Mark Borrasso is a Success Coach at LandOpt, an NALP Consultant Member firm.

As you read this, you have the world at your fingertips. With the availability of tablets, smartphones, and increasingly portable computers, instantaneous access to information is the highest it has ever been in human history. Your brain, the storehouse for that information influx, constantly stands at the ready to sort through it all and make sense of it. Research consistently shows technology has done and will continue to do much to contribute to the evolution of the human brain.

Unfortunately, that same technology meant to help increase the brain’s efficiency and aptitude at processing, sorting, and applying information often has the opposite effect when overused. The human brain, adaptable and accommodating as it is, requires regular intervals of rest to function at its best. Deprived of that rest, it is at risk of suffering from what Ferris Jabr, in his Scientific American article “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime,” calls cerebral congestion.

Avoiding the phenomenon of cerebral congestion begins, in part, with regularly and intentionally unplugging from technology.

It is during these unplugged times that the brain works its hardest, dumping and archiving excess information and sorting the rest into manageable, relevant chunks for timely recall. Unplugging also has a wealth of other benefits, all of which result in greater productivity at work. Here are just three.

Better Sleep

Studies show that blue-light-emitting devices like smartphones and tablets interrupt natural sleep patterns by confusing the brain. Removing these devices from areas where sleep regularly occurs helps the brain to hold onto its normal sleeping and waking routines, resulting in deeper, more restorative rest.

Sharpened Attention

Technology-related distractions, such as social media posts, incoming emails, and advertisements, can lead to absent-mindedness as the brain struggles to manage information overload. Stepping away from distractions as much as possible frees the brain to focus on the people and tasks that matter most.

Improved Mental Health

Excessive use of technology has been shown to lead to increased instances of anxiety and depression. The reasons why are still largely unknown, but research in this area points to the heightened feelings of inadequacy that result from exposure to the seemingly perfect people, places, and products often portrayed online. Unplugging for a time gives the brain a chance to rationalize and make sense of the skewed reality it is constantly perceiving and processing, leading to higher self-esteem, greater mental clarity, and more rational thought processes.

When mindfully used, technology can be an invaluable tool and a welcome ally in our daily pursuits. Too much technology, on the other hand, can disrupt the body’s natural rhythms, impede progress, dull the senses, and adversely affect the mood. Building regular time into each day to intentionally unplug and step away from technology ensures the brain has time to restore and replenish its capacity to process and sort information, the information so vital to the success of your business’s operations.

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