Distraction is a killer!
Distraction kills both people and relationships. The evidence for this is mounting daily; ignore it at your peril. The average amount of time spent in the cyber world by each of us is between five and six hours per day. Hey, I’m not looking at my smartphone or tablet that much! So, someone else must be doing my share on top of their own.
Texting while driving is an epidemic in our country today. One in four accidents is caused by it, resulting in 330,000 serious injuries. It’s scary, isn’t it? Studies in performance psychology consistently show youngsters underperforming in exams when their smartphone is on the desk – not switched on, not used, just available and within reach – in comparison with when it is absent.
In business, the smartphone is ubiquitous, which means that we are all less productive than we can be. Because our attention is divided between “here and now” and “there and then,” our interpersonal communication and relationships are suffering hugely. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 9 pathways to greater control over your life and loves.
1. Meditate at least once a day. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, focus inwards, and be uncoupled from all the usual stuff. Allow your unconscious mind to innovate.
2. Be mindful of the proven side effects your smartphone has on you, both physically and emotionally. Be aware of stress so that you can combat it. When you find yourself squeezing and scrolling frenetically, take a deep breath, count to ten, and start again.
3. Focus on your purpose in going to your devices. When you realize you are multitasking in ways such as talking and typing, or texting and driving, just stop with the secondary task. Get back to the primary job in hand. You’ll do a much better job of it and hopefully live to tell the tale.
4. Be sure to listen and respond with empathy when you are talking on Skype or WhatsApp, etc. Concentrate on the voice tone in your ear and their silences. Check your understanding of the messages they are sending you. Deal with others as you want to be dealt with.
5. Censor your desire to check your phone when in the company of others. When it rings or vibrates, you may experience the fear of missing out on “something.” The feeling will pass, and the world will keep on turning. Nothing is more important than authentic communication with the person in front of you.
6. Limit and schedule time for your device usage. It’s only a tool! A means to your ends. Every time you find yourself reaching out to the Internet, ask yourself, “is this the best way to accomplish this task?” Each small step will loosen the bonds that ensnare your mind.
7. Share your rationale with any people you interact with if there is a pressing personal or business need to be available. Never place your device between you and your colleagues, family, or friends. Rather, say something up front like; “There’s a chance I may have to take a call. Please excuse me if that happens while we’re talking.”
8. Dare I say, stop it with the selfies and the food pictures? Think of the time and resources involved in posting, replying, and checking. What could you do instead? How about check in with a customer? Or call your partner or parents, to let them know you are thinking of them. Every minute spent online is one NOT spent on authentic interaction with people in front of you.
9. Recognize you are addicted to your device if IT sleeps nearby. If it’s the last thing you see at night and the first thing you reach for in the morning, then you are in trouble. Time to wean yourself from checking emails or social media at every opportunity. More than once a day is an expensive habit. The bedroom is no place for smartphones. Be mindful of two things: 1) We all need a calm state of mind to achieve restorative sleep. 2) We are at our best and most creative immediately after sleep. Take time to listen to your thoughts before plunging into the cyber whirl.
Smartphones, the Internet, and social media are here to stay. They are fantastic modern servo-mechanisms. But there is also danger in them when we become their slaves. The answer to this postmodern dilemma is mindfulness, pure and simple. So, retake control and have a wonderful, mobile-free life!