If you find that your eyes feel tired, you feel headachy, struggle to concentrate or have neck and back pain, one possible explanation could be screen fatigue, say our Study Advisers.
Our devices help us to study and stay connected to each other but, unfortunately, they can also tire us out and limit our productivity. Screen fatigue can be avoided by putting some simple strategies in place, read on to find out more!
Tip #1: Take breaks
As with any kind of study, it is important to take regular breaks. To avoid screen fatigue, making clever use of your breaks can help. For example:
- If you take a ten-minute study break from writing up an essay on your laptop, try to take that break away from screens. Avoid the temptation to look at your phone in your break and instead try to do something physical, even if it’s just emptying the dishwasher or making a cup of tea.
- If you have time for longer breaks, try taking a walk or going for a run. This will give your brain and eyes a rest from the screen but can also relieve aches and pains from poor posture adopted while working on a screen.
Tip #2: Plan screen and non-screen time into your studying
Planning your studying with a timetable, to-do lists or planners is a useful practice and might be something you are already doing (see our advice on Organising your studies). However, have you considered planning your study with regards to screen time? For example, you could:
- Mix and match your studying activities for the day to include some screen and some non-screen activities. For example, you could spend an hour searching for journal articles for an essay, take a break and then spend another half an hour sketching out an essay plan on a piece of paper.
- Think about activities that you could switch from online to offline. Could you print out a paper to read instead of reading it from the screen? Could you make that meeting a telephone call instead of a video call?
Tip #3: Watch out for triggers
You will, of course, need screens every day to study and stay connected, but look out for situations where you end up online unnecessarily:
- Turn off notifications. Do notifications on your email or phone pull you back to screen? Could you turn some of them off? Even just turning off notifications temporarily while you are working, off-screen can help.
- Buy an alarm clock. If you use your phone as an alarm in the morning, it can be very easy to drift onto the internet after turning it off. Buy a simple alarm clock instead and remove the temptation.
- Seek offline distractions. If boredom finds you picking up your phone or opening an internet browser, watch out for this, and try to replace these activities with something else – listening to the radio, calling a friend or even doing some colouring in a book will give you a break from the screen.
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