We touch our phones 80 times a day. It’s a staggering number that most likely makes you cringe. It’s truth that we’ve become slave to our devices. And worst of all, we don’t see the real damage it’s doing. You might be contemplating ways to end this passive slavery. You can try banning phones at night, sleeping with it outside of your bedroom (just buy an alarm clock!), only taking one phone out at night between a group of friends (you only need one selfie) or going phone-free entirely on the weekends. You also might need a nudge to change your habits, here are some benefits that come when you get off the phone drug.
When you have time to reflect, pause and observe you have a chance to see patterns and connect dots. Patterns are the insight necessary to have ideas both big and small. They are the seeds of any idea, and when we fill our mind incessantly with meaningless stuff, we lose the ability to recognize patterns and use them to spark ideas. When your phone is down, your eyes are up and you’re looking around noticing things, talking to people, listening to those around you and receiving information from all your senses, you are topping up your creative fuel. As Alfred Hitchcock says, “Ideas come from everything”. But you have to be present to notice things.
When you’re not bogged down in the trivialities of what someone else ate for lunch, you’re able to distinguish with greater clarity between what is urgent and what is important. Too often, our phones allow us to mix these things up – a buzz mid-meeting will grasp our attention, though what’s important is happening right in front of us. Stepping away from your device regularly will allow you to gain some much-needed space from your work and gain an aerial perspective that can help you see what you should be focusing on, and what you should let slide. Most successful leaders attribute a great chunk of their success to the ability to focus – and our phones make that nearly impossible.
Better Working Relationships
When you choose to meet in person (without phones) and deliberately limit email, you get further, faster. One solid meeting is worth 100 nebulous emails. In person meetings help to bolster trust, improve transparency and ensure any misalignment are aired early before they become big issues. When you work this way, email plays a supporting role to the star attraction: in person connections – and not the other way round.
When you’re truly present with people, both of you receive a dopamine hit. A recent study into social health and relationships found that a lack of connection can be even more detrimental to health than smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure. On top of that, when we’re connected, it not only feels better, but it improves our health. Our immune system gets a boost, inflammation dissipates, stress hormones reduce, and anxiety and depression drop. This study also found that social connection can lengthen your life. We all know the feeling of sitting with someone while they monitor their phone, reacting to its every buzz and flash. It’s an instant mood kill, as its effectively saying what’s on my phone matters more than you. Put it away, and do your self, your health and your friends a favor.