Is Your Smartphone Stressing You Out?
BY: Laura Freberg
I love my smartphone. I really enjoy the ability to stay connected with friends and family, knowing what they’re up to and how they’re doing, sharing photos with them, and comparing thoughts on the news.
But sometimes, always being connected can be too much of a good thing, what with the constant interruptions from phone calls, text messages, emails, Tweets and Facebook updates. And then there’s the persistent temptation to check your phone every few minutes.
Indeed, the 24-7 distraction of a smartphone can make it difficult to concentrate on what we’re doing and actually trains us to skim everything, causing us to miss details on important messages that we really should read. What’s more, the constant need to make choices between types of information to scan raises our already high stress levels. Finally, when we check our phones during face-time with real, live people -- whether it’s during a family outing or a business lunch -- we look rude and bored at best, and at worst, we miss important social signals from tone of voice, facial expression and body language.
What can we do to manage the distractions of this new connectivity to reduce smartphone stress? The best solution is really quite simple: Turn it off.
Multitasking Is a Myth
One of the reasons why people constantly check their phones is because they’re under the false impression that they’re good multitaskers. I hate to be the one to break the news, but multitasking is a myth -- the brain just doesn’t work that way. While it’s true that the brain can shift attention rapidly from one activity to another, we have a great deal of difficulty doing more than one thing at the same time.
So when something really requires -- or deserves -- your attention, consider the following:
- Don’t try to multitask; turn your phone off instead.
- If necessary, put the phone in another room (gasp!) or at least out of easy reach.
- Turn it on again only after you’ve reached a certain point (e.g., after you’ve completed the first draft of a report or gotten halfway through a social event).
- If you’re expecting an important message and can’t turn your phone off completely, at least turn off the nonessentials, like Twitter updates.
- Set ground rules for gatherings, whether they’re social or business-related. For example, you might decide on no Facebooking at the dinner table or no texting during a business meeting. This is especially helpful when people of various ages are involved, since what appears rude to Boomers is often acceptable to their children.
- If you’ve turned your phone off so you can accomplish something, use the opportunity to catch up as a reward for a job well done.