Smart Phones and Productivity!

Its now been more then then a decade since the first iPhone was launched by Steve Jobs on January 9, 2007. In 2020 closer to 3 billion people will have a smartphone and yes, it has also changed how we do close to a billion things; Everything from how we order food and take pictures to how we communicate with friends, read the news and do our accounting. The list could go on and of course many of these things are for the better, or at least for our convenience.

But smartphones has not only changed how we do things, the scaring truth is that they have actually changed us, in a fundamental way. Numerous researchers within psychiatry, health, marketing and neuroscience has revealed time after time again that smartphones are causing real damage to our brain and relationships!

1 – Decreased focus and attention span
Our attention span has from year 2000-2013 gone from 12 – 8 seconds, in case you wonder thats 1 second less then a goldfish! Smartphone use takes about the same cognitive toll as losing a full night’s sleep. Average users look at their phones up to 150 times a day, and about twice as often as they think they do. Interrupting us from our tasks at work and relationships at home. Apps like Instagram are withholding likes and tapps in to our insecurity so we have to check back in a minute or two, just to know we’re stil popular and loved.

2 – Reduced brain power and productivity
Of course all distractions brought by our smartphone will lead to decreased productivity. *UT Austin researchers found in an experiment that both our cognitive capacity and overall brain power are significantly reduced when our smartphone is even within glancing distance, even when it’s turned off and face down. Decreasing our ability to focus and perform tasks, because our brain is blocking us by actively working not to pick up the phone. The opposite also applied in the experiment, that our ability to hold and process data significantly improved if we leave the smartphone in another room. Where the participants clearly outperformed everyone who had the smartphone close by.

By constantly interrupting us with memes, notifications and spurts of dopamine kicks they also make it more difficult to daydream and think creatively.

3 – Declines in work-life balance
When the average user look at their phones about 150 times a day, it sums up to an average of 3-5 hours a day or if you’d like up to 7 years of your life. All for a little cuddling with our fingers on the glossy screen. They make parents ignore their children and in a Swedish commercial you see how firefighters go around the beach and snatch smartphones from distant parents to reduce the risk of their kids drowning. Unlike desktop computers or TVs, smartphones go with us everywhere, and they know us. They know what you want to see in your newsfeed and what will grab your attention so you have to keep updating and of course for longer then you intended.

4 – Highly addictive
Have you ever heard of Nomophobia? The fear of not being able to use your cell phone or other smart device. Its a real addiction and its on the rise, causing the same overall decline in personality and relationships as other addictions. Chris Marcellino, who helped develop the iPhone’s push notifications, said in an interview that smartphones hook people using the same neural pathways as gambling and drugs. Facebook to, recently admitted that the worlds largest social media platform is designed to make users addicted with the help of dopamine, released when we expect a reward or acquire brand new knowledge. Its truly changing the way we behave.

“Disconnect to reconnect”
If we want to see a quick transformation in productivity, empathy and team spirit at our workplace and our relationships to prosper, perhaps we should consider putting up the same Poster originally from the TD Centre in Toronto; “Disconnect to reconnect»

3 quick tips to get rid of your smartphone addiction
1 – Leave your smartphone in another room or even in the car if you go to a meeting or just want to be present in a real life situation.

2 – Get rid of all the attention seeking dopamine spurting apps from your smartphone and turn off ALL notifications, you will most likely still check facebook and similar on your computer.

3 – Get dual sim cards and buy a «dumb phone» so you can get smarter at work and more present at home. This way you can still use your smartphone for tasks but at your own choice.

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Markus Helle-Pettersson