As a publicist, writer, blogger, Instagrammer, and all-around millennial, I sit at my computer or look at a screen most of the day. My screen time even caused me to get glasses a few months ago due to eye strain and fatigue. So when I learned there was a way to reduce eye strain that didn't mean giving up my iPhone, or leaving my job, I was all in.
In the years before I wore glasses, I prided myself on being able to see perfectly up close and pretty far away. As I noticed that deteriorating, especially after work, I realised glasses were going to be the new normal. Now that I wear glasses for work, my eyes don't feel nearly as tired as they did, but I definitely needed to do more to reduce eye strain.
The Eye Experiment
Enter the 20-20-20 method. For one workweek I worked for 20 minutes, then looked at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds, then back to work for another 20 minutes for the cycle to continue throughout the day.
How I Worked
At the beginning of the week, it was hard to remember to look away from my screen. I had gotten so used to being in the zone and working until the job was done that I would forget about the strain the computer was putting on my eyes. As the week went on I began to monitor my time better and take those breaks to let my eyes relax and reset. At the end of the night when I would sit down to watch a TV show or a movie, I noticed a big difference in how my eyes felt. I wasn't nearly as tired, my eyes were able to focus on the smaller details on the screen, and everything didn't look nearly as fuzzy.
While the obvious good of not being as tired and my eyes being able to adjust better was great, the amount of time this took up in my day made my workflow and productivity a lot slower. I work anywhere from five to eight hours a day. Looking away from my computer at least 20 times for 20 seconds a round adds up pretty quickly. In the fast-paced world of publicity, 20 seconds is the difference between getting your client featured and losing out to someone else who was able to get their email in first. I'm also someone who likes to put their head down and work on a project until it's completely done, so to disrupt the flow of writing or working on a project every 20 minutes is challenging. It took a few minutes to get back into the groove and mindset of work.
Would I Do This All the Time?
At the end of the week I began to realise that I needed to take more breaks in my day. My eyes were hurting from looking at a screen for so long, but the 20-20-20 method just wasn't practical for me and the requirements of my job. So instead I've made a plan to get up after finishing a story for a client or big project and just walk away from my computer. I can do anything else except look at a screen, from making a snack, to having a little dance party, to calling my mom to see how her day is going. Speaking of moms, my phone is ringing, so I better step away from the screen for a while.