Hard Work

Working Effectively: Step Away from the Cell Phone!

I laughed out loud (LOL) when my karate Sempi Julia posted the sign to the right on her FaceBook profile.

In humour, there is a germ of truth. Every day I see people crossing busy intersections with ear phones, blue tooth ear thingys, or madly typing away on cell phones.  Unfortunately this lowers their awareness of what is happening around them.  The result?  A big increase in the likelihood of a pedestrian/car accident.

Lack of situational attention (caused by use of gadgets) also increases the likelihood of being attacked.  Self-defense instructors emphasize that the best way to defend ones self in a personal attack, is to not get into the situation in the first place.  How do you do that?  By being aware of what’s happening around you, and adjusting your own behaviour/situation.  If you notice that you’re walking down a dark, unpopulated side street, you can get onto a more populated street, where it is less likely you will be attacked. If you are busy staring at your phone screen, you won’t notice the absence of people.

The problem with gadgets is that they reduce your situational awareness, because of divided attention.  Our brains cannot process two streams of information at the same time.  I’ve posted about the fact that texting reduces performance in learning environments. 

If you are busy listening to music, or texting, you just don’t see the car that just ran the red light, that is coming straight at you. Don’t believe me?  Watch this video.  

How to you manage your gadget addiction?  Some simple rules:

  1. Don’t use gadgets when physically moving (okay, you get an exception on the treadmill).
  2. Don’t use gadgets when listening or talking to someone who is physically present.
  3. Give yourself gadget breaks — after 50 minutes of gadget free work, check your texts for ten minutes.
  4. Disconnect for 24 hours.  See how it feels.
  5. Block off chunks of time to work gadget free. 
  6. Have gadget free meetings. 

The big challenge for all of us is to develop self-discipline when using gadgets. The sooner we do, the more productive and effective we’ll be.  So, “Step Away from the Cell Phone”.


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