A favorite caption I saw a couple years ago with regard to workforce restlessness was “Distracted? Hit the Reset Button.”
We all know the familiar frustration with computers and other devices that decide they just can’t work anymore in the moment. We’re probably all familiar too with the required routine to update their operating systems in order to bring them back to even keel, starting point, place of rest.
It is the same with people.
We find ourselves with “restlessness syndrome,” the inability to write another word or figure another computation in our workplaces. That’s not to say distraction doesn’t rear its periodic unattractive head when we are attending to a project at home. Often, what is behind it is simply our modern lack of deep focus on any one thing at any one time, in an age of expected, mega multi-tasking.
At our work desks, the call of our email and Twitter accounts and more beckon us from the drudgery of getting our paid tasks done. It is precisely such activities that are truly the distractions, not the reset cure we attribute to them when it crosses our minds to check in.
In other words, we talk ourselves into believing that a quick peek will refresh us, will reboot us. It can. In fact, it could if managed extremely well. But the action represents much more acute hazard, and in the long term, most individuals really need to “check ourselves” before we buy that persuasion to “check out” for a few minutes.
I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to being utterly bored or stalled in a project and checking mail or even the latest online news just to take me away from my own mind’s restlessness and lack of motivation. But I try to be aware and make the distinction that such is true distraction, indeed, and not a place of rest or regeneration. And I try to turn off mail and alerts as much as possible when I want to dive into my own thinking and productive working without the fray coming in from all the borders of our modern communication.
For the true reboot comes when we get up, stretch, go over to a window and gaze far into the distance, walk a dog, pet a cat, make a cup of tea, and absolutely think on nothing about the project or anything else with letters or numbers or other things your brain uses to process information. It’s as if the computer has been turned off. As long as these things don’t equally get out of hand time-wise (turning into procrastination), we’ll be in better shape, balanced, and at a starting point of renewal.