Is this your productivity nemesis?
Have you ever noticed how many times you reach for your phone during the day? Do you think you could put a number on it if you had to hazard a guess?
If you're anything like me, and many, many other people, you probably pick up your phone without even realising you're doing it. It's like some weird muscle memory thing. It's become habitual.
There used to be a time when I'd notice myself walking around the house with my phone in my hand for no apparent reason. I wasn't even looking at it, just holding onto it for dear life because...well...because...erm...actually, I have no idea.
And then of course there's all the mindless social media scrolling and email checking and angry birds and whatsapp group messaging.
I don't know about you, but I noticed my attachment to my phone become even stronger when I started my business. Suddenly everything felt more important. Without the security of a regular monthly paycheque, checking email and Facebook suddenly felt business critical. I'd post something and then keep checking in to see whether anyone had engaged with it. Had anyone answered the question I'd asked in a business support group? What if an email came in offering me the opportunity of a lifetime and I missed the boat?
If this is sounding familiar to you, you're not alone.
Last week, Ofcom released their annual communications report. Did you see the headlines? Apparently, smartphone owners check their phones every twelve minutes. Every twelve minutes!
Many of the apps we love so much are engineered by behavioural psychologists to find ways of drawing us in. When we keep mindlessly reaching for our phones, we're not in control; we're being manipulated. That may sound over-dramatic but it’s true. Stories emerge every now and then of tech geniuses banning their kids from using the very products they helped create as they know how addictive and potentially harmful they are.
Have you noticed the impact of all this on your own productivity and happiness?
Reaching for your phone interrupts the flow of your work. It takes longer to get things done and your progress is slower than you'd like.
It interrupts quality time with others. Being intentional with our attention is so important when it comes to connecting with other humans. Checking our phone puts up a barrier between us and the person we're with.
Our phones can often be the cause of stress and anxiety as FOMO kicks in and we feel we have to keep up with the constant stream of inputs. We don't expect other people to drop everything when we contact them, so why do we have that expectation of ourselves?
Research has shown a connection between phone use and insomnia. I’m sure there have been times when we've all read an email just before going to bed and immediately wished we hadn't!
So, what’s the alternative?
What happens when we take back control of our attention and our time, developing a more mindful relationship with our phone?
We get more done AND we're able to switch off and relax more easily. It's a double whammy!
If we're not grabbing our phone every twelve minutes (!) we'll find our flow more readily. We'll be fully present and able enjoy the work we love without FOMO. We'll power through the more mundane tasks with ease and in record time because we're not using our technology as a delaying tactic.
We make progress.
We're more creative.
We're more connected with the people around us.
Loosening our grip on our phones - or perhaps that should that be loosening our phone's grip on us - takes practice, determination and a willingness to keep getting back on the horse. But I promise you it’s worth it!
(If you need a little help with this my online course, Productivity Made Simple, could be just the ticket!)
How’s your relationship with your phone? Please do share in the comments below.