Whenever I feel unproductive and unable to work, I follow a piece of advice I’ve heard many times before: take a short break away from the computer, return, set a timer for 15 minutes and work until the timer runs out. Sometimes I’ll feel motivated to keep working, sometimes I’ll need to stop and repeat this process or admit defeat for the day. At the very least, since I focused during those 15 minutes, I know I did something with my time. Usually, the hardest part of working is getting started.

Since the pandemic started, I’ve had trouble disconnecting from news sites and social media. Screens provided some distraction from the isolation, the boredom, and it helped me stay connected to the dramatic political news. It was hard to feel rested during nonworking hours.

I’ve started following the same advice for my rest time. When I feel myself in an internet or screen-time loop, I shut my devices off, set a timer, and do anything not involving a screen. This is a gentle push away from the screen to encourage myself to notice the world around me, even if that world is just my home. Usually I’ll start cleaning, go for a walk, or work on a craft project I’ve been neglecting. When the timer runs out, sometimes I’ll go back to my phone or laptop, but lately I’ve been trying to nudge myself to keep doing whatever I was doing for a little longer. I’m always happy I stepped away for a moment.