Put your phone away and change your life
If, like me, you’re one of those people who’s always staring at your phone, you’re potentially doing yourself all sorts of bad, not just because of the eye strain, but because of the strain it can put on your mental capacity and relationships – and also your career. (In other news, “texting hunch” is actually a bunch of baloney. So, there’s that.)
I’m going to suggest a challenge, which I propose to undertake along with you – let’s all put our phones away for a week, and take them out only when we are alone.
I got the idea from this article by Aja Frost at The Muse, which I found inspiring.
Here are five reasons we should all put our damned phones away. Keep in mind that I am also an offender, and am therefore admonishing myself as much as anyone else here.
People will like you better. You know what’s rude? Staring at your phone when you’re supposedly interacting with people. Are you sitting in a meeting and staring at your phone? Think nobody notices? The boss notices and thinks you’re rude. Talking to a coworker while staring at your phone? Rude. Staring at your phone will having a meal with others? Rude. The message you’re sending is: “I don’t give a damn about you and pretty much anything else is more important and more interesting – than you.”
You’ll be more productive. Concentrating on one thing at a time is actually far more effective than trying to focus on multiple things. According to research out of Stanford University, “Multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time.” Forbes reported that “The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.”
You’ll actually know what the heck is going on. When you’re reading text messages or mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Twitter while someone else is talking, you’re only going to absorb a fraction of what is said. It might be important, insightful, valuable, funny, fascinating – and you’re missing it. How many times have we sat across from someone at the dining table, chattering away, until we realize they haven’t heard a word we’ve said? Once is too many. Also, you’re not missing as much as you think you are when you don’t look at your phone.
You’re less likely to fall into a manhole. It’s true. When you’re actually looking where you’re going, you’re less likely to fall into a manhole. You’re also less likely to get hit by a car, walk into a post, or trip over something. In 2011, more than 1150 American pedestrians were treated in ERs for injuries related to texting and walking. Be careful out there.
There are actually a lot of nice things to look at. It’s been said time and time again that exposure to green space can improve mood and mental health. But you can’t see nature if, whenever you walk through a park, you’re staring down at your phone. Other things that are nice to look at might include people, smiling children, dogs, cars, architecture, the sky, clouds, the sun, and store windows. If you look up from your phone, you might be shocked that there is a whole world of things going on around you. This might also lead to new insights and ideas. Give it a try.
So, that’s it. Let’s all put our phones away and not look at them unless we are alone. I’m not sure if, say, public transit qualifies as “alone” but I don’t think I’m going to include that in off time myself, and I will allow myself to listen to podcasts when walking. You can make your own rules. There’s no referee.