Gigster Insight: Unplugging to Supercharge
We often think we must be connected and online all the time to stay relevant and up to date on the latest whatever. Honestly, that can be exhausting. Our brains need time to process – that is why we unplug. Our bodies need time to recuperate – that is why we sleep. Our minds need time to make meaning – that is why we daydream.
Unplugging can seem counterintuitive to supercharging, but human beings are not machines. We need to rest, we need to recuperate, we need time to make meaning of our experiences, and we need time to dream. That is where our genius emanates from. In a recent NY Time article titled Stop Letting Modern Distractions Steal Your Attention, Anna Goldfarb profiles a few people who speak to their efforts to control the pull life has on their attention. One person, Dr. David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, writes about how making ourselves inaccessible can actually help us boost productivity.
Another person, Linda Stone, a former Apple and Microsoft executive, speaks about “continuous partial attention”, or CPA. She says that this is “a state of alertness during which you are motivated by the desire not to miss out on anything.” That is not multi-tasking, that’s an addiction.
Lastly, Sophie Leroy, a professor at the Bothell School of Business at the University of Washington found in her 2009 study, that as we transition from task to task there is “residue”. This residue is the little bits of time required to shift our focus from one task to the next. A buildup of this residue increases fatigue and stress, negatively impacts performance and productivity.
Not unplugging can increase stress, make us ineffective (even dangerous depending on the work that we do), and make us crazy. The body is not a machine. It is an organism that works to maintain stasis, or balance. Our actions must support our body’s natural desire for stasis. We do this by monitoring and controlling how our lives pull us in numerous directions. If we do this, we experience many benefits. Ms. Goldfarb outlines a few:
You’ll be calmer
You’ll be more creative
You’ll be more productive
These three things map on to what I mentioned in the beginning: sleep, daydream, making meaning. Human beings need all three in order to be effective and creative in our endeavors and remain mentally healthy. It is inevitable that our work involves devices and people that require our attention. How much of that attention each receives is ultimately up to us.
As Gigsters, we have a lot of control over what we do and when we do it. To be successful, we must align our approach to work with our body’s natural tendencies. We must give our body what it needs, so that it is there for us when we need it most. In order to supercharge our career ventures, we must make time to unplug.
What do you think? Leave your comments below.
This article also appears in a newsletter published monthly called The Gigster 'Zine! that is a production of the Colégas Group. Please visit the website to learn more, sign up for the newsletter, and for finding innovative employment opportunities.