It’s a funny little dance that many of us are doing with our smartphones these days. On the one hand, we know that they kill our productivity and that, probably for many reasons beyond that, we should limit our use of them. But we also love our phones and can’t begin to imagine life without them. We certainly aren’t willing to separate from our phones for very long. So, what are we supposed to do?
Thankfully, there are some little adjustments you can make to help stop your use of your phone from destroying your productivity.
1. Don’t check your phone in the middle of a conversation.
There’s no doubt that smartphones have changed the way we live, work, and interact with one another. When someone checks their phone in the middle of conversation, we’re experiencing what is perhaps the worst part of this new reality. And, what’s worse is that we all hate it and yet it still happens all the time. According to Pew Research Center, 82 percent of American adults feel that the use of a smartphone during their most recent social interaction hurt the quality of that interaction. However, the same study also found that 89 percent of cell owners used their phone during their most recent social activity.
2. Set the example, especially when you’re in a position of authority.
When you’re in a position of authority (running a meeting, speaking with someone who you supervise, etc.,) you’re setting a tone, an example for others to follow, whether your aware of it or not. If, during these times, you check your phone, others are likely to follow suit. If you don’t, they might not either. Control your smartphone-checking-impulses during these times and you’ll be more productive while also compelling others to do the same, essentially multiplying your productivity.
3. Respond logically to physical discomfort and pain caused by your smartphone.
Be honest, your neck hurts a little bit doesn’t it? Cellphone use can hurt our bodies in several different ways but “tech-neck” is probably the most common. It’s also not good for our backs, shoulders, wrists, and even fingertips and thumbs. The crazy thing is that we often just kind of ignore these little aches and pains and power on. Instead, admit that maybe you didn’t “sleep funny” last night, and that instead you’re literally hurting your body from being on your devices too much. And, try to lay off (who are we kidding, try to cut down) until you’re feeling better.
4. Turn off alerts when you’re really trying to concentrate.
There are some times we need to be more focused than others. Perhaps the most productivity-killing workplace trend is the interruption of a smartphone ping during times of intense focus. Getting into flow state isn’t easy. And, once you’ve lost your flow it isn’t easy to get it back. Despite this, too many of us are leaving our phones on, and the volume up, all day long and it’s holding back productivity in a big way. Researchers have found that, even if we don’t look at or answer our phone, that little notification of a text or call is still a huge distraction.
5. Don’t use your phone during meetings.
There are some activities that just don’t mix with smartphones. Using your phone during a meeting is right up there with using it during a church service, as far as most people are concerned. 96 percent of Americans said it was “generally not OK” to be on your phone during church, and 94 percent said the same was true for meetings. So, switch your phone off during these times.
6. Waste time at work another way for a change.
Remember when goofing off at work involved laughing too loudly with colleagues or maybe a little harmless gossip? These days, using our phones/texting is the most common way we waste time at work. But, honestly, what’s the fun in that? Use your smartphone to suck up time in elevators or in waiting rooms if you must, but trying goofing off with your coworkers the old-fashioned way once in a while when you want to waste some time at work. It will almost certainly be more fun.
7. Recognize that turning off your phone helps with work-life balance, and educate others.
We talk a lot about the great apps we just can’t live without, and what we watched on Netflix last night, but do we ever talk with each other about the value of turning our devices off? Understanding that taking this time has actually become something of a bold move toward establishing better work-life balance could help us make the switch. So, if you slept better last night because you put your phone on the charger rather than sleeping with it right next to your head, talk about it with others. Appreciate that these downtimes are important, crucial even, and set an example for others to follow.
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