For many years I reported to the same manager. He was very supportive and made time frequently to meet in person, one-on-one, to discuss both my ongoing work and my development. Then something changed. My manager became very distracted. The source of this distraction? His new smartphone.
Every time it buzzed or beeped, he would stop focusing on our conversation and grab the phone to explore the source—a new Facebook post, an email, a text, etc. Pretty soon I found myself not really wanting to get together with him. And I wasn’t the only one—my boss’s other direct reports were feeling the same way.
Actor Emilio Estevez is quoted as saying “We have all these devices that keep us connected, and yet we’re more disconnected than ever before.” I agree.
The distracted, disjointed experience I had with my boss has become a daily occurrence for millions of people, both on the job and in their private lives. Overuse of cell phones has become an actual addiction. I wonder if the inventors of the smartphone or social media platforms could have ever imagined the harmful potential of their device or service. I also wonder—often aloud: Does the fact that we can stare at our phones 24/7 mean we should?
So how might we move differently going forward?
- Be aware. The first step is awareness. Over the next couple of days, chart how many times and how much time you spend interacting with your device. (Ironically, there are apps that will do this for you.) Make a note of the specific triggers that prompt your use.
- Ask: Can it wait? When you reach to check your phone, ask yourself: Is this really important or can it wait? Chances are, it can wait.
- Take face to face literally. Make in-person meetings sacred. Keep your phone off the table and on silent mode. Anything else you are doing needs to take a back seat.
For many people, these behaviors will be challenging. So be kind to yourself—two steps forward, one step back. The key is to alter your behavior by keeping the goal of less time on your device top of mind.
I heard someone say we all need a retreat from our electronic gadgets. Now you know what I think about that statement. What do you think?
About the Author
Joanne Maynard is a senior coach with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.