Technology has greatly aided our lives and made several previously difficult tasks easy.  But technology has also brought some negative changes.  Sometimes technology can be a major source of stress and keep us from functioning normally.  Technology has changed the way humans are exposed to light and sound; these two changes have significantly affected our productivity and health.

Where's the Sun?

For most of the day I am exposed to machines that produce light, whether it is a phone, a computer screen, or a TV.  Most of these screens emit light at a cool-tone (more blue than red), which mimics the light coming from the sun.  This is fine during the day, but at night, an over exposure to blue light could prevent melatonin (hormones that dictate the sleep cycle) from being released, making it difficult to fall asleep.  There is a solution for what color tone your computer screen is emitting.  A free computer software called f.lux can be easily downloaded from their web site.  F.lux has your computer screen mimic daylight (as it usually does) during the day.  This is the Daylight setting. When the sun sets, the screen emits more warm-tone colors, so the screen has a slight red-orange tint, which is the Halogen setting.  This would seem distracting, but it corresponds with your environment and is actually not very noticeable.  To prove this, I changed the settings one evening around 7pm.  It was on the Halogen setting and I moved the setting to Daylight.  The screen seemed so incredibly bright since my eyes had adjusted to the Halogen setting.  You can slow down how fast the setting changes at sunset from twenty seconds to an hour.  If you need to do color sensitive tasks, you can disable f.lux an hour at a time.  Too bad there is not a version of this software for tablets since most people would bring a tablet to bed rather than a laptop.

If more awareness was brought to how computer screens affect our behavior, maybe they would change for the better.  Think about your phone:  is it difficult to see in the daylight?  Is there a glare?  Many of the products we use that emit light are not suitable for outdoor use.  It's sad that technology is pushing us indoors.  But E-Readers actually need light to be read since they use E Ink.  I like the idea of screens needing light to be used.  Sure they are not as effective in dim situations, but if it's day time, it encourages you to go outside.

We all need sunlight and a good intake of Vitamin D to stay healthy. Get up from your desk, step outside every once in a while.  Or better yet, take a walk outside to clear your head! But what if it's noisy outside while you're trying to rest and recharge?  More on noise in my next blog post.

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx.  Journyx's time and resource management products help create productive environments for their clients.