Perhaps it’s time to turn off our smartphones

SmartphoneBefore we walk into the office in the morning, we have finished four different conversations in three different time zones, answered three emails, tweeted two people and read uncountable status updates. Technology has progressed, we all know this, but because the improvements developed over time, most of us haven’t experience a huge impact on our lives, even though it changed our ways. Ten years ago, we would have had our first conversation of the day on location, not in our beds after we snoozed the alarm. The same goes for our last conversation of the day, which ten years ago would have been with our partners, but nowadays, it’s usually with a well-known stranger on Twitter.

A recent study by Cisco surveyed 3800 young Australians (aged under 30) and showed that 90% were suffering from signs of nomophobia; the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. These signs include sleeping with your phone next to your bed, checking your phone every five to thirty minutes and taking your phone with you to the bathroom. Some of them showed more dangerous behaviour, like texting while driving.

You might not be the person to sleep with your phone aside your bed and you might be the person that has the last conversation of the day with your partner. Chances are that you are still more connected to your phone than you initially thought:  50% of Australians checks their work emails on their smartphones after work, 80% uses their smartphone to take pictures and 70% to browse the internet.

We are so used to having our smartphone in our hands, but do we ever think about how it is influencing our life and work? Research shows that workers who are connected to their smartphone work an average of 240 hours longer a year, but are we really more productive? Smartphones have their downsides; they can increase stress and because they are always there, they can be very distractive.

So what happens if you allow yourself to have ‘downtime’ one night a week? A Harvard Business School study which involved management consultants being banned from monitoring their smartphone after 6 pm once a week provided a possible answer. The experiment was carried out on 1,400 employees over three years. The people who had regular ‘downtime’ had greater job satisfaction and were more likely to stay for a long-term career at the firm. They said that their work-life balance improved and that they became more productive. They were more excited to go to work in the morning. The study found that those who turned their phones off spent more time with their families and started making future plans for their social lives instead of endlessly cancelling them or not even bothering.

What does this tell us? Well, this is only one example, but with such great results, perhaps it’s time to turn off our smartphones once in a while…