Too often, one good habit comes at the expense of another. Get a full night’s sleep or wake up and hit the gym? Make myself a healthy breakfast or skip it to get to work on time?
This either-or dilemma resurfaced on a recent visit to my eye doctor, when she confirmed that my vision had worsened (…again). I chalked it up to the fact that I’d been working a ton—aka spending the majority of my day two feet from a laptop. My doctor told me my level of decline was “normal,” which is to say, it’s not uncommon among people who stare at screens all day. That said, I’m not exactly ready for the prospect of legal blindness by age 40, so I asked if there’s anything I can try to slow down the process.
She reminded me of the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes of staring at a screen (any screen—that includes phones and TVs), take a 20-second break and look at something at least 20 feet in the distance. I had heard of it, but of course promptly forgot to put it into practice. This time, I installed a Chrome extension to remind me.
I initially expected those 20-minute breaks would disrupt my workday, but two things happened. First, I noticed that my eyes definitely felt less tired and tunnel vision-y at the end of the day. But there was an added bonus: Those 20-minute blocks of time actually helped keep me on task.
Normally, I have a tendency to fixate on minor details, which, over the course of the day, pile up and put me behind on my to-do list. But the built-in status check three times an hour helped me remember to finish up and move on. In other words, it fixed my tunnel vision in more ways than one.
It’s worth noting that everyone’s vision is different, and preventing eye strain won’t necessarily stop vision decline (and conversely, some people will hang on to their 20/20 vision no matter what). But if you’ve noticed you feel cross-eyed after eight hours at the office, it’s worth a try—you never know, it could make you better at your job, too.
Now if only there were a way to rack up my daily step count while I’m sitting in meetings.