October 1, 2016

While My Computer Gently Sleeps

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Many people approach installing software updates on their computers the same way they look at filing their taxes: just keep delaying the inevitable until you absolutely can’t push it off anymore. For me, that moment recently arrived.

While the software was downloading and installing, I suddenly found myself with a few valuable moments when I was unplugged from my email and the endless stream of news, G-chats, and Tweets that I normally face on my screen. But what to do with those few “found” minutes?

Here are three suggestions of things to do while you’re away from your computer, which are particularly helpful for PR pros. And in the spirit of the DLPR custom to listen to music if you have free time (our hold music is pretty goodDire Straits), I’ve prefaced each tip with lyrics from relevant songs:

1. “Get up, stand up – Sports scientist Dr. Jack Groppel has encouraged people at work to get up and move once every 30 minutes. He argues that it’s good for your body and mind, helping with engagement and concentration. While Bob Marley had a more political motive, his words are helpful for those of us with desk jobs.

2. “It was so easy livin’ day by day, Out of touch with the rhythm and blues, But now I need a little give and take, The New York Times, the Daily News” – As we know, more articles appear online than in the print version of a newspaper, but take a look at the print editions anyway. The print paper allows you to see which stories editors value most. Also, look at some of the ads and compare them to which companies are advertising on the paper’s non-digital properties. It gives insight into how different brands reach their audiences, and how brands are utilizing multi-platform ad campaigns. Special sections are also sometimes easier to follow in print than online. Billy Joel knows you can’t avoid reading the paper for too long.

3. “Get all that garbage put of sight, or you don’t go out Friday night” – An organized, clean desk often helps put me in in the right frame of mind to tackle a challenging project. However, a study published in Psychological Science concluded that it’s best to have a messy desk when you start a project and that you should tidy up the desk at the end. Personally, I like to keep things neat, but this invariably is a Sisyphean task.

Computers and technology obviously enable us to do more with our time, but having a few unplugged moments can also be very rewarding. Cleaning your desk, taking a walk, or reading something not on a digital screen are helpful breaks from the norm. And remember, once your computer wakes up from its gentle sleep you can get back to “takin’ care of business.”

By: Ben Jaffe