You’re addicted to your smartphone. So what? Isn’t that a pretty socially acceptable compulsion – one that helps you be more efficient and effective? The term “Crackberry” isn’t considered to be universally negative. If you’re hyper-connected, you’re considered to be technologically advanced and in demand.
Perhaps you question whether you’re really addicted. Maybe you really could stop whenever you want to. So why do you break into a cold sweat if you inadvertently leave the house without it? Why can’t you turn it off or ignore it?
What are the downsides to this habit?
You devalue the people around you. If you interrupt conversations to answer email or take calls, you are giving the message that the current activity is less valuable to you than whatever’s happening on your phone.
You lose valuable “stare out the window” time. Constant connection prevents you from devoting blocks of time to thoughtful reflection.This thinking time is a necessary leadership activity – allowing for deep thinking about the strategic priorities that need your attention.
Email, in particular, is addictive. Psychologists are identifying email addiction as a growing problem. People become obsessive about checking email. Receiving satisfying (funny, informative or whatever you find fulfilling) email happens intermittently. That is the most potent kind of habit-forming reinforcement, and what causes some folks to constantly scan their inboxes. They even have a name for it – “variable ratio reinforcement!”
You think you’re constantly needed. Perhaps the most insidious of the smartphone addiction symptoms is the underlying message of importance. If you’re connected 24/7, it must be because your input is always essential. Recognize that often the issue is yours (I need to be “in the know”) and not theirs. People will survive without you. They even learn to make decisions and grow as leaders without you standing in the way.
Before you come to the conclusion that your smartphone use isn’t a problem, try turning it off a few hours each day. Take a walk. Think expansively. Then come back, refreshed and ready to tackle the work that really does require your time and talent.
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