Are you similar to many other people and a little too attached to your cellphone? Does it seem only appropriate that when your cellphone rings you should answer it the vast majority of the time regardless of who you are with or what you are doing? Are there Twitter or Facebook alerts popping up every three seconds? Is there really anything wrong with multitasking and taking the occasional call during dinner, or checking e-mail while you are in a meeting?
Believe it or not, your cellphone is possibly causing you more harm than good. The majority of us probably need to take a look and change how we manage our cellphone use. Honestly, how many people can you see right now? How many are nursing their iPhone like it's a newborn?
Don't get me wrong, I am just as attached to my cellphone as anyone. My Droid literally changed my life; e-mail and texts are an essential part of my day and I honestly don't remember how I existed without instant access to the internet.
But, have you noticed how cellphones have a tendency to just take over and constantly demand a significant part of your attention? You can go through life on autopilot jumping from one e-mail to the next, responding to voice mail messages, and not really ever paying enough attention to the experiences happening right in front of you. It is not that you are totally oblivious to what is going on, but let's face it, if you are continually being disrupted by your cellphone, you are just not nearly as engaged as you could be.
Cellphones are literally masters of distraction and they can take your attention away from just about anything instantly and consistently.
The Negatives to Being "On Demand"
The ability to instantly connect with anyone has its advantages, but it also has its costs if not managed properly. Don't underestimate the damage caused by allowing your cellphone to constantly require you to multitask.
Research has proven that workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer from many issues, even including a fall in IQ during the period of distraction. "Those who are constantly breaking away from tasks to react to email or text messages suffer similar effects on the mind equivalent to losing a night's sleep." The same study also found multitasking has a negative physical effect, prompting the release of stress hormones and adrenaline.
And, the usual justification that multitasking allows you to accomplish more also doesn't really stand up to scrutiny. Another study confirmed that people who multitask actually end up being less efficient.
Stop Being Used By Your Cellphone
Stop allowing your cellphone to hold your attention and mind hostage. It is time to reclaim your attention span.
Now, this doesn't mean that every once in a while you can't make an exception and take a call or check an e-mail while you are doing something else. The problem is when switching back and forth from one task to cell phone management is your standard operating procedure. And, if we notice this is one of our bad habits, we need to start work on changing it.
5 Tips to Help Free You From Being Held Hostage By Your Cellphone:
- Turn off the ringer from time to time.
As scary as that may sound, there are just sometimes you shouldn't be interrupted. Reserve blocks of times to devote your complete attention to things you need to get done, your kids, your spouse, your driving! Turn your ringer off during holidays and other family or alone time so you can really engage and enjoy those experiences.
- Turn off your notification light.
Make a leap of faith and realize everything will not explode just because you don't instantly know when an e-mail or text message comes in. Yes, this may take some getting used to, but, it really is liberating and allows you to decide the best time to read e-mails and texts instead of always checking your phone every time you notice the notification light flashing.
- Use your cell phone; don't let it use you.
It's great that you can do just about everything on your cellphone, but when you pick it up to use it, decide what you are going to do, use it, and get out. If you are going to return e-mails, then don't end up surfing around the internet. Have a plan every time you pick up your cell phone and stick to it.
- Screen your calls and e-mails.
Prioritize paying attention to who you are with or what you are currently doing. Take a look at who is trying to contact you and decide if you really need to respond right away. No one really knows whether or not you are available so you can decide to not answer your cell phone unless it really is necessary.
- Reserve blocks of time to check your messages and respond.
Take periods of time to check and return all your messages. Perhaps you have a block of time you take every morning, afternoon, and evening. This way your messages don't accumulate and you can be fairly confident you are not going to miss anything really time sensitive because you are checking your messages regularly. If you are a heavy user, you may need to have more check-ins throughout the day. Figure out what works best for you, but the key is to not consistently and continually check messages throughout the day.