Smartphones first came into my life as an incredible tool that kept me dialed into the markets, in real-time, no matter if I was in the office or riding my bike. I remember my first Blackberry that was connected to the web and thinking it would be a game changer for my productivity. Initially, I think it was. More recently, however, during my waking hours, I’ve been leashed to my smartphone. Many times it has prevented me from engaging in the world around. I hate that, and thus I’ve started to cut its use. The benefits to my productivity, calmness, appreciation, relationships, and focus has been noticeable since cutting back on my addiction (although I relapse frequently). In time, I aim to look at my phone only half a dozen times a day. Kanye may have stated it best on Twitter recently: “Look at your phone as tool not an obligation. Would you walk around with a hammer in your pocket? You would pick up a hammer when you needed it you would never be addicted or obligated to it. Use your phone like a hammer only pick it up when you need it.” Brilliant…
In June, Simon Cowell, founder of the X Factor, former judge for American Idol and one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010, told the Daily Mail he hasn’t used his smartphone for literally 10 months. Describing the experience, Cowell said it was ‘weird,’ but ‘It has absolutely made me happier.’
Now, we all have busy schedules as entrepreneurs. However, I think it is safe to say many of us probably aren’t as ‘in-demand’ as a guy like Cowell. Meaning, if he can do it, so can you.
Earlier this month my wife and I vacationed in Croatia. I promised myself that I wouldn’t carry my phone around during the vacation. It’s sad, but that’s a first for me on vacation. As I said, I’m a workaholic and addicted. However, this trip I did my darnedest not to look at my phone during our time out. I’d check it when we got back to our hotel at night and only brought it occasionally when I knew there’d be some good sites to photo. I can honestly say that that decision, helped by Croatia’s beauty which I observed with my full attention in the absence of a phone in hand, made the trip our best yet.
Smartphones are making us stupid. We’ve heard that before, know it to be true, but for some reason, we choose to ignore it. Or maybe the addiction we have to smartphones has grown so strong we can’t fight it even though we know the devices are making us dumb. Like drug addicts, we see the damage being done to us, yet can’t change our trajectory.
In the powerful video below, the famous ‘brain coach’ who has mentored some of the most successful people in the world, states, if you take your arm and put it into a sling for six months would it get stronger? Same goes for your brain…
Our smartphones are making too many decisions for us. They are memorizing important data that we should be storing in our brain, determining what we do at what time, distracting us from the present, and giving some digital dementia (that’s a real medical condition!).
The 1:40 mark in the video below is an extremely powerful example of the message you send off to those around you merely by openly carrying your smartphone, and the impact it has on their perception of you and how you view them.
Simon Sinek, a genius in my mind, stated when you put the phone on the table while at a meeting, dinner, etc., you’re telling everyone in the room they’re not that important.
And I’m guilty of the classic, keep the phone out on the table but flip it upside down to signal I’m not paying attention to it. But why is it even in plain sight in the first place? I’m addicted, that’s why. And you may be too…
As an entrepreneur, your smartphone can be a tool, no question. But if you’re anything like me, which is to say an addict, you need to pay close attention to what it is doing to your productivity, relationships and attention span, among other things. As with drugs, there are clear and obvious dangers to overusing your smartphone, although they have clear benefits when needed. It’s hard, and probably not smart, to quit your smartphone cold turkey. But you need to moderate usage, which I’m trying. I’ve found that designating the evening ‘smartphone free time’ has been healthy. I’ve also noticed that putting my smartphone on silent for several consecutive hours during the workday leads to enhanced productivity. I encourage you, if you’re like me, to cut back on your smartphone use, and resist the urge to scroll. Don’t let it be a leash. You’re not a dog.
PS Wesley Snipes the famous actor and infamous tax cheat, had a great tweet the other day. He wrote, very simply, “Don’t let the internet rush you…”
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