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.