Need a break? There’s an app for that.

Alexander Charles
Xerox public relations coordinator, Global Public Relations

With everyone concerned about information overload – and now conversation overload – there are applications for your mobile device that tell you when to unplug and take a break.

But is this really necessary?

When I was a college student, I learned about the importance of taking a break while working summers in a call center. On an average day, I answered about 200 phone calls (you might call it my introduction to information overload 101).  The type of call ranged from a gentle “can you help me reload my postage machine” to the more aggressive “you can find your machine outside on the curb.” During my shift, I was allowed a 30-minute lunch and two ten-minute breaks.

After the mental timeouts, I always felt better prepared to tackle the rest of my day. It was a good lesson, but at times difficult to follow.  As one’s career progresses, the wisdom of taking a well-timed break gets overshadowed by multitasking and navigating today’s world of information overload. 

Have you ever gone out to lunch and realized you’ve forgotten your mobile phone? The realization is often accompanied by a momentary feeling of dread and a few choice words for Murphy. But more likely than not, the sky did not fall, the company didn’t collapse and all continued to be right with the world. But even with this realization, the need to be plugged in at all times has created a market for applications that tell you when to recharge and relax. 

I’m not sure if I need that sort of application, and if I ever do, it may be a symptom of a larger problem. For now I rely on a very large water bottle to facilitate breaks, and it seems to do the trick.

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6 Comments

  1. Diego Pereda August 24, 2011 - Reply

    Hello Alex, loved the post, the one thing missing was the name of the app??? I am sure there is more than one, maybe you can do a blog post about the choices? (Xerox employee)

  2. Tia Peterson August 24, 2011 - Reply

    Hi Alexander – Thanks for linking to our post on mobile apps that help you take a break!

    Truthfully there aren’t many apps that I would use to do that, either, and not just because I have a now-unpopular BlackBerry! However, I think that even just the existence of these apps and talking about them helps people realize that they need to stop.

    I’m not as attached to my mobile as others. I frequently do not even know where it is and am guilty of letting my voicemail box get full about once a month. But there are some people in my life who I wish would get one of these apps.

  3. alexcharles August 24, 2011 - Reply

    H Tia,

    It took me a long time to give in and get mobile device. I knew once I did, I would always be connected. Now checking red light that signals a new message is a compulsive daily habit. I think they say the first step is acknowledging there is a problem. Loved your post.

  4. alexcharles August 24, 2011 - Reply

    Diego,

    Well in a way, I did share the name of the app I use…my large water bottle. Just kidding…but there’s a link in the post that details all of the applications that help one take a break..

  5. Morgan August 24, 2011 - Reply

    I admit I am rather attached to my phone, but I’m lucky in the aspect that I get to check my phone whenever I feel like it, so I’m not AS attached as I used to be when I wasn’t allowed to look at my cell phone while working.

    I don’t need an app to tell me how to relax, but you make a good point. We do rely on our phones, but I’m pretty sure we can all get along without our phones if we had to. 🙂

  6. Brad Balfour September 7, 2011 - Reply

    I agree. I don’t feel like I need an app like that either. But then again, when i go on vacation I manage to not do any work for a week. And nothing falls apart.

    But others don’t feel the same way. Nor work the same way. For many people all of this information overload is about emotion. And so a way of enforcing being cut off from their mobile devices so they can focus helps avoid the negative feelings of overload.

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