It’s time for you to put down your phone. Not now. Wait until you are done reading this blog post. Then put down your phone.
Many of you have iPhones and are familiar with Apple’s screen time feature they launched in 2018. For those of you who aren’t aware, it is a feature that shows users exactly how much time they spend looking at their phone per day and per week. Not only that, it will tell you exactly how many times you picked up your phone, and the precise usage per phone app. You can see how much time was spent on social media, checking emails, messaging people, etc. It basically proves to all of us that we look at our phones way more than we thought we did.
Sure, some people need to be on their phone all day for work. But unless you are a social media manager, or your name is Adam Schefter or Adrian Wojnarowski, you probably don’t fall into that category. For the vast majority of us, our phones drain our productivity.
We have all been in the situation where we are working on something and then we hear our phone ding. Our mind detracts from whatever we were working on and thinks, “Oh! I must be important! Someone wants to tell me something! I wonder who it could be?!” Obviously, we have to stop what we are doing to see what this important message is. It is from one of our college buddies sending a video of kangaroos boxing each other and HOLY SMOKES, ONE OF THE KANGAROOS JUST KNOCKED OUT THE OTHER KANGAROO! That was awesome, I need to watch it again and then forward it on to my brothers and some other friends. OK, back to work.
What was I working on again? I was about to look something up but I can’t remember what it was…. Maybe if I look at the last email I sent that will jog my memory. Oh, there we go!
This whole ordeal may have only taken a minute or two, but multiply that times 100 each day, and you can see how easy it is to fall behind on your to-do list!
Many of you might be “working” 10-12 hour days, but if your iPhone says you average 2 hour and 14 minutes of phone usage per day, you might be wasting an hour or two of time at work!If you put down the phone and focused on your tasks at hand, you might be able to go home an hour or two earlier each day.
Our phones have enabled us to look things up on the fly and respond to work related items on the go.However, they can also be a big distraction throughout our day and cause us to get sidetracked easily.
Time is Money
Since this is a financial planning blog, we’re going to tie this into money. We have all heard the saying, “Time is Money.” Well, time spent on our phones is time that we’re not spending making money. Watching previews of the new season of Game of Thrones or checking Twitter for NBA trade rumors will not equate to dollars in your pocket.
If you’re looking to improve your productivity so you can earn more income or cut down on wastage so you can spend less time and earn the same income, put down your phone.
If you can increase your productivity and do more in the same amount of time, that will lead to more income for you. More clients contacted, more patients seen, extra side projects. Your company will value you more which leads to more job stability, higher pay, and quicker promotions.
If you are already in a satisfying position on the career food chain, try to increase your efficiency so you can do the same amount of work in less time. Putting down your phone could be a good first step. Less time spent at work. More time spent at home, or on vacation. You’ll actually enjoy your vacation instead of taking work with you.
You will probably find you get more stuff done at home too! Instead of scrolling through Instagram for an hour each night after the kids are in bed, you can make tomorrow’s lunch ahead of time, or organize your closet. Plan out meals for the week. Review your checking account and credit card transaction history to get an accurate snapshot of what you are spending money on.Exercise. The possibilities are endless.
A Radical Idea
I have a radical idea that probably none of you will attempt, but I strongly encourage you to try it for a week and see how it goes. Let’s see if this wild idea will actually help you become more efficient. If it works, I don’t need any credit. If you don’t see a difference in your productivity after a week, go back to your old ways.
We’re only going to check our phones three times per day. That’s it. You get 10 minutes when you wake up in the morning. Check emails, maybe skim the news headlines, and respond to messages that came in while you were asleep. Then put your phone on silent and hide it from yourself until lunch.
At lunch you get 15 minutes while you are eating. Same deal. Return missed calls/messages from the morning. Check for important personal emails. And whatever else is important to you, time permitting. Then it’s back on silent and tucked away until the evening.
In the evening, you get another 15 minutes. Return missed phone calls/messages from the afternoon. Delete all of those unimportant emails. Maybe reach out to a friend to see how they are doing. Then phone is put away until the morning.
40 minutes in total for the day. Seems reasonable. It may not even be a big reduction from your current usage. However, by consolidating that usage into three defined periods during the day, you will enable yourself to better focus on the task at hand. When you are at work, you will be focused on work and free from distractions. At your kids’ soccer game, you will be watching your kid instead of being that parent who missed your kid score a goal because you were looking at your phone. When you are allowed to be on your phone during those 10-15 minute windows, you will go to the most important stuff first, because you know your time is limited.
As we all know, there are exceptions to every rule. This one is no different. Your one exception is to talk to your mother on the phone. If your mom calls, you can answer it. And the time spent talking to your mom doesn’t count against your daily time limit. This way, we won’t resent our mothers for taking up our valuable screen time.
So what do you think? Are you up for the challenge? Try it for a week and see if you notice an increase in productivity both at work and at home. You can your spouse could both try it together. You could coordinate screen times together, so you have your 15 minutes of screen time simultaneously and the rest of the time you are more attentive to each other.
How great is that!? Boosting productivity! Strengthening relationships! We do it all here on the Financial Clarity Blog.