Be honest with yourself—how many times do you grab your smartphone to check Facebook and other social media during the day? If you’re like me, the answer is probably, “too many times to count.”
Yet, checking in online can mean checking out in real life, and that it could have a devastating effect on your career. Luckily, there are ways to beat smartphone addiction before it takes over our brains.
When to Pull the Chord on Information Overload
Constant exposure to information overload from our smartphones affects us cognitively and emotionally. Smartphone addiction makes us more anxious, isolated, lonely and stressed. In our search for validation through a posts’ number of “likes,” we miss out on genuine, deep connections between other people and us. And it isn’t just the pursuit of online validation that isolates us from human contact—it’s the time our smartphone addiction takes up.
Smartphone usage adds an additional two to three hours to every work day, time you could spend going to social functions, taking a walk with a friend or spending time with family.
Time Doesn’t Equal Productivity
Smartphone usage has us working longer hours, but it hasn’t made us more productive at work. Constant connection to our smartphone affects our ability to concentrate for more than a few moments before becoming distracted. In fact, people addicted to their smartphones exhibit ADHD-like symptoms such as inattentiveness and hyperactivity, as well as the inability to concentrate. Smartphone usage affects the very networks of our brain that control our ability to think deeply, be creative, and focus our intention on the task at hand.
While smartphone usage does strengthen the neural pathways that govern problem-solving and fast decision-making, it does so at the cost of depleting our neural pathways for contemplation and sustained concentration. Smartphones have been linked to other problems like sleep disruption that will ultimately affect your professional success and overall well-being. They also serve as a distraction while doing collaborative tasks. For example, pausing to send an email while in the middle of a deep brainstorming session at work can create up to 20 minutes of mental residue—20 minutes no longer spent on completing the task at hand.
Life Without Social Media
You might ask yourself this question—isn’t it important to create a powerful social media presence and network to keep our online persona fresh and up-to-date with new opportunities?
In an entrepreneurial society, the job market rewards rare or valuable things, and social media posts are a dime a dozen. By wasting time on updating blog posts and creating a social media “brand,” we waste valuable time we could use doing something that furthers our careers.
So how do you free yourself from smartphone addiction? Cancelling your cellular service altogether isn’t practical for most, due to the nature of most careers. However, there are still things you can do to end the addiction.
- Keep Your Phone at Your Desk
When you have a meeting at work, keep your phone in your office instead of taking it with you to the conference room. The same goes for when working on any task requiring concentration—keep your phone in another room. The presence of your phone can distract you when working on a task requiring mental focus.
- Participate in a Cell Phone-Free Activity
Give yourself an hour or two each day where you participate in a cell phone-free activity, such as going to the gym or taking a walk. Create a no phones at the table policy during dinner time, and instead talk with your family.
- Use the Do Not Disturb Function
Smartphones come with a do not disturb function. To turn this on, go to your phone settings, and select ‘Do Not Disturb.’ Some phones will automatically allow you to set a do not disturb alert for certain hours. You can enable calls only from certain numbers, or enable repeat calls for emergency situations, while still activating do not disturb during the work day, or at least while working on a task requiring concentration. You can also try one of the many screen-time-monitoring apps that are now widely available.
- Create a Phone-Free Zone at Work
While you may or may not get others in your work force to comply, why not experiment with creating a phone-free zone at work? If you work in an office, volunteer to put a basket or other collection container where you can drop off your phone at the start of the day, and take it out only for breaks and lunch. If you work from home, make your home office a phone-free zone.
By taking simple steps, you can free yourself from unnecessary anxiety and overcome your smartphone addiction. Your career will thank you for it.
Photo by Raw Pixel
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