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Negative Impact Of Email On Your Body Is Beyond Expectation, Research Finds

Negative Impact Of Email On Your Body Is Beyond Expectation, Research Finds

Let’s make a bet, shall we? I bet you’re reading this on your smartphone right now. Was I right? Okay, send the money to: Matt Duczemi—just kidding.

My point is that, in today’s busy world full of technological advances, it’s almost a guarantee that even if you’re sitting completely alone in your apartment, you’re no more than a couple steps away from being able to contact almost anyone in the entire world. While this is definitely an amazing accomplishment for mankind, there are certainly many drawbacks to it as well.

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How many of you immediately grab your phone whenever it starts beeping or buzzing, even if you know it’s going to be a meaningless email from that website you signed up for last week? I’m guilty of it as well. But what we’re not realizing is that even taking a quick ten-second glance at our phones completely disrupts us from whatever we were engaged in before the Pavlovian response kicked in. Even worse, the content of the email or message we received has the potential to completely take us away from our previous activity, especially if the email is work-related.

Research and Study

A recent study conducted by the University of Hamburg discovered that having 24/7 access to communication devices results in elevated stress levels across the board. This is due mostly to the fact that our bosses just assume that we should be available at all times, regardless of whether or not we’re on the clock. Not only do our employers expect it, but we also succumb to it as well.

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The study involved 132 workers from 13 different places of business, who were given a stress-related survey every day for 8 days. Of these days, the participants were expected to work and be available on 4 of them. The other 4 they had to themselves. Some of the participants also gave saliva samples in order to measure their cortisol levels, the hormone which regulates stress in the body.

As you can imagine, those who were expected to be available reported higher stress levels, and their saliva samples showed the same. However, even though those who were not expected to work reported feeling less stressed out, their cortisol levels also increased as well. Despite knowing full well that they were completely free to do whatever they pleased, they still may have been affected by the possibility of an emergency call or message coming through on their smartphones.

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What gives?

It seems that our idea of “relaxation” has completely changed. As a freelance writer, I can certainly attest to this: When I went on vacation this summer with my wife, there were still a couple of times I felt compelled to respond to clients immediately when they emailed me, even if it was just to say “I’m away for the week and will get back to you soon.” Rather than completely ignore them, I felt it was in my best interest to give them an update so they didn’t end up passing me over and moving on to someone else. Regardless of my reasoning, for at least a couple of minutes during my one week of vacation, my mind was back on the grind rather than on the ocean waves.

We keep our smartphones within reach at all times. We immediately read and respond to emails, regardless of their true importance. We do all this, as I alluded to in my personal anecdote, in order to keep from falling behind. But we seem to be forgetting that, by putting our career and professional life ahead of our personal life, we end up falling behind in one way or another anyway.

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What do you think? Is it worth sacrificing a couple of minutes to reply to a work-related email? Or are we sacrificing too much by anticipating the next buzz from our phones?

Featured photo credit: Two Dreamers and a Smartphone Addict / Jake Stimpson via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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