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Limit Your Gadget Exposure
Strayer, who organizes studies on how the heavy use of digital devices and technology affects us, is also concerned about digital overload on the brain. In one of his studies, he gave a group of subjects a creativity test that measures, as he says, "how well you can see new associations and links between things you're looking at." Then he took the group on a trip in the wilderness without electronic gadgets for three days. After the trip, the subjects took the same creativity test to get reassessed. "We had about a 45-percent increase in scores," he says, "which is pretty substantial." A week later, he retested them, and the scores went back down.
"Check email" appears in my mental lint—a couple of times, in fact. If I established regularly scheduled times to check my email every day (say, 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.), I would not only not have the nonessential thought, I would not have it twice.
When you go on vacation, he recommends leaving the phone at home or leaving it in a place where you can make an emergency call if you need to. Another everyday trick: Change your email settings so that, instead of scheduling delivery every minute or two, it does so just two or three times a day.