There is a new word in our lexicon: Nomophobia. Two of every three of you reading this have it. What is this fear gripping the good people of this nation? Nomophobia is the fear of being away from your phone.
And 66% of Americans have it. Need more proof? According to a recent survey, half of us would give up caffeine before we would give up our phones. Here are a few other things we would give up before our phones:
● ⅓ sex
● ⅔ chocolate
● ½ exercise
● 70% alcohol
And this one really got me, 43% would give up SHOES before giving up their phones! I certainly appreciate the convenience my phone provides as much as the next person, but it seems as though we are no longer controlling our phones, but our phones are controlling us.
And this addiction takes a toll on productivity. We could spend the next hour discussing the anxiety and depression that results from the constant bombardment of bad news (which is all we see because good news doesn’t capture our attention) or comparing ourselves to the litany of phony lives being lived out on social media. But today we will focus on productivity.
A recent study estimates we lose just over 23 minutes every time we are pulled off task: email alert, text message, a knock at the door. Twenty-three minutes of lost productivity. Why? Because we don’t jump right back to the place where we left off. It takes time to get our minds back into the state of flow. Think about how many interruptions we have from our electronic devices and translate that into lost hours of productivity for you and for your employees. Electronic devices are everywhere in every industry so what can you do? Plenty!
Here are some suggestions to minimize the interruptions and regain control:
● Turn off ALL notifications on your phone (bonus points for doing the same on your computer)-triple bonus points if you just leave your phone on silent.
● Keep your phone out of arm’s reach when you are driving.
● Leave it behind for every meal.
● Stand in line and DON’T pull out your phone and peruse the mundane and innane.
● Wait one hour after you wake before looking at your phone and avoid it the last hour before you sleep.
● Still can’t stop looking at your phone every 15 minutes? REMOVE ALL UNNECESSARY APPS! (Facebook is not a necessity). You can catch up from your computer once or twice per day.
I realize you may feel obligated to answer emails and make calls. I’m not advocating that you forego being available to clients, coworkers or direct reports. But there is a better way to leverage your electronic communication.
Designate time(s) throughout your day to do so. One study shows office workers check their emails up to 40 times per HOUR! Maybe this is because we humans inherently want to be important and feel needed. Every new text, email, or alert injects a hit of dopamine into our brains (yes, the same chemical that makes cocaine so addictive). We become addicted and cannot ignore electronic notifications. We try to simply ignore the notifications , but will power doesn’t work (and will only exhaust us). To change our behavior, we have to remove the temptation altogether. Eventually new habits will evolve.
Try it for one week. Trust me, none of us is as important as we think we are (or think we should be). The world will not end if you only answer emails every 3 hours, or don’t immediately answer every text. (And yes, it’s cheating if you are wearing an Apple watch or similar device and use that instead!).
If you fear repercussions, make your direct reports and supervisors aware of your intentions. Your increased productivity will quickly quiet any pushback.
One week. Just seven short days. Notice how it changes your productivity. If you have influence in your organization, create an environment that encourages (or at least allows) your employees to minimize distractions for designated time periods. I have seen this work with huge results for many of my own team, and those I coach outside my team. After your week of increased productivity-you will not want to return to your old ways that have your monkey brain at the mercy of your electronic addiction.
Cheri Kuhn is a Professional EOS Implementer and CEO for Orchard Corset. Read her leadership blogs at traction-advantage.com/news/