"It's like an arms race … everything is an emergency," said Tanya Schevitz, spokeswoman for Reboot, an organization trying help people unplug more often. "We have created an expectation in society that people will respond immediately to everything with no delay. It's unhealthy, and it's unproductive, and we can't keep going on like this."The good news is that some productive people, or, more importantly, some people in authority, get it.
Laura Vanderkam, who recently published the eBook, "What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekends," says that many executives she's worked with have learned they can unplug for a weekend without dire consequences.Editor's note. Yes, this post is going up on Saturday. But Cold Spring Shops was idle from Monday through late Friday, and if there's anything in my university electronic mail, none of it must have been so urgent as to drive somebody to leave a message at my home 'phone. Tonight, the cyber-space gets turned off in favor of sports on the radio, and modelling supplies down cellar.
"Many of us have an exaggerated sense of our own importance," she said, speaking on the eve Memorial Day weekend. "I can tell you that come Tuesday morning, the Earth will still be revolving, whether you have checked your email or not."
Besides driving each other crazy, we are also robbing our brains of critical downtime that encourages creative thinking when we skip weekends and vacations. At extreme levels of exhaustion, rest-deprived brains experience memory loss and hallucinations. But without regular rest, brains fail at more basic tasks. A study at the University of California, San Francisco, found that new experiences fail to become long-term memories unless brains have downtime for review.
Vanderkam also argues that taking breaks makes you more focused when you work. People who work 50 or 60 hours rarely get more done than people who work 40 hours, she argues.