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Friday, September 27, 2013

Breaking The SmartPhone Dependency Cycle


If you’re like many professionals in the United States, you’re likely attached to the hip with your smartphone. It never leaves your side and you are always checking your company email and responding to questions or taking calls. This is only natural. Business sleeps for no one and something can always go wrong in that one moment you may be unavailable to take a call.

Sure, your client or customer may call. Sure, you’ve got employees working across multiple time zones and in remote locations. But none of this is sufficient reason to warrant the amount of time you spend connected to your phone.

Simply through the competitive nature of professionals and the unrealistic expectations set by management, there is significant pressure to always be available or “online.” Oftentimes this is a legitimate reason as you need to maintain your value to the company and demonstrate your dedication to seeing your employer succeed.

But realize the predicament this puts you in. The moment you begin to adjust your schedule to allow interruptions no matter where you are, the more demands will be placed upon you. For example, you alter your daily schedule to keep you available for “that one phone call” or continuously read email while sitting at the dinner table because you need “that one email” to know if a client is planning on ending their contract with you. And once your coworkers or clients notice this increased level of responsiveness, their requests on your time will likewise expand further.

The end result of this is that you are continuously connected, never able to simply put the phone down or turn it off because someone “may need something.” As professionals continue to take on more requests, the expectation for similar response times over the long term continues to increase.

Getting stuck in this cycle of responsiveness creates numerous repercussions on your work process. When you’re stuck in a state of continuously being online, you don’t have the time or motivation to think about better, faster and more efficient ways of working. Instead, you are stuck focusing on those last-minute changes that take priority over all else.

The sad thing about this cycle of responsiveness is that it’s not something you can break free of by yourself. It requires a combined effort between yourself and those instigating the interruptions. Here are some suggestions for breaking the cycle:

Simply turn off your phone. 

This may seem like something that could result in being fired or missing a critical communication, but the experts at Harcourt Health say reduced stress will make all the difference. You need to enjoy your time away from work. You might want to let everyone know you’ll be unavailable for a period of time, though.

Work out a schedule with those you interact with. 

 You won’t be able to break this cycle if everyone else continues to adhere to it. Meet with the people you communicate with most frequently and decide on a schedule that is predictable and you both can adhere to. This means you’ll be available when it works best for you and you’ll know when everyone else is available to be contacted as well.

So far as personal preferences go, this is by no means a definite science. It takes a lot of work to escape the cycle of responsiveness, and will by no means be easy. But when you escape it and find you actually have time in the evenings to yourself, it’ll all be worth it.
Featured images:
Adam Torkildson has been guilty of checking his phone during dinner, sleep, church, and nearly his own baby's birth. He wrote this article in the hopes of persuading other business professionals to shut down sometimes. It helps.

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