The following is a guest post by ChopDawg.com, an award-winning app development company that has worked with over 180+ startups and companies from all around the globe, helping them bring their web apps, mobile apps, wearable apps and software ideas to life.
Follow ChopDawg.com on Twitter at @ChopDawgStudios.
I’ll admit it.
I’m addicted to my cell phone.
It is unnatural.
It is unhealthy.
It is making me unproductive.
Something needed to change, and I couldn’t be a hypocrite to my belief of making every moment count, every ounce of my energy going into something that matters, and being the most productive, most efficient that I can be.
I spent years making excuses for myself, creating a false conception to what was happening.
A lot of entrepreneurs say the same.
What if an important customer tries to reach me?
What if one of my team members pings me on Slack?
What if a critical email comes into my inbox?
What if this is all just bullshit?
No, the actions I am describing aren’t bullshit. The idea that I need to be on, 24/7, for these things, is what is bullshit.
The reality is if a significant customer is going to try reaching me, odds are, they will understand if I get back to them when I see I missed their message. Perhaps I was in a meeting, or doing something that required my attention? I’ve never been in a situation where not answering the phone right away was unacceptable (except for scheduled meetings, but again, you’d be prepared for that so this example wouldn’t be warranted).
The reality is, if a team member pings me on Slack, they weren’t expecting an instant response. It’s Slack. Sure, it can be useful in real-time, but everyone on my team has meetings to be in, work to work on, and yes, a real personal life outside of work. It is unreasonable for me to expect them to be on 24/7, nor is it realistic for them to expect the same from me. We all know how busy and how productive we need to be to keep our ship moving.
What if a critical email pops up in my inbox? It’s email. Same as above. Who in the world is expecting an immediate response back in email? No one. If it is truly important, they are calling you. Non-stop. Because, that is the appropriate manner to conduct yourself when something is of the utmost importance, the utmost urgent items.
Those are the real reasons, and I knew this deep down, but still, I would hide this to justify needing my phone on me.
The reality is, my phone just became a tool of distraction, to make me think I am busier than I need to be, or maybe selfishly, more important than I am.
Why do I need my phone on me when I am already in a client meeting? My client deserves my full attention, and even if I am not on my phone, just having it on my desk communicates my attention isn’t fully there. That isn’t right.
Why do I need to pick up my phone, what feels like every five minutes, just to see if a new email popped into the inbox? Does it matter? I can respond to all my messages at the end of the day; no one will mind. It still accomplishes the same outcome, does it not?
What if I miss a call? That’s okay. If it wasn’t scheduled, odds are, the person on the other end probably realized that I am busy. I have scheduled meetings, employees needing my help, work to get done. I doubt they are upset.
Worse of all, why in the world, do I need to check my phone immediately upon waking up, every single morning? What is that accomplishing?
All of this said one thing and one thing clear to me, I am an addict.
I need to stop.
I’m not naive; it’s 2017. I do have legitimate needs for having my phone. Social media is a huge part of our company. I do need to provide excellent customer service, and yes, I am on the clock 24/7 for my team, as that is my responsibility as an entrepreneur, as CEO, as a leader.
However, I can have more limitations.
I don’t need to sleep with my phone by my side. I don’t need to have my phone next to me when I wake up.
When I am at dinner, or in a meeting, I do not need my phone to me. It can be put away, turned off, or at least, put on do not disturb mode (for the iPhone users out there).
I do not need to look at my phone every few minutes, hoping to see something new and get a quick dopamine hit. I have a never-ending to-do list. Clients that need me and depend on me. Individuals who are asking for my time to help them. Things to do that are productive, and that I do enjoy!
So, I’ve made changes and sticking to it.
1) I’ve turned off all app badges on iOS. I don’t need them. They do not need to distract me. If I want to check emails, I’ll make sure it is a point in my schedule that makes sense for me to be most productive, and ideally, on my computer to answer. This way I have a keyboard, and can type and get through my unread inbox significantly quicker vs. typing on my phone.
2) I’ve turned off all notifications from everything not critical. Social media notifications turned off. Sports notifications turned off. Email notifications turned off. Text message notifications turned off. Slack notifications turned off. The only thing turned on, and remained on, is for phone calls, since again, I understand when things are truly urgent, a call will be what will happen. Oh, and calendar reminders, because I will never let myself be late to a scheduled engagement, ever. The rest, I will still check, but on my time when it is the most productive thing for me to do at that precise moment.
3) I no longer have my phone on me when I am spending one-on-one time with the girlfriend, close friends, family, and right before going to bed (my goal right now is at least thirty minutes before, but hopefully, expand that to an hour to two hours beforehand). I need to enjoy the moment in intimate settings such as this and stop having my focus, well, half-focused. It’s not fair to those around me, and to be frank, it is not fair to me.
4) I no longer wake up with my phone next to me. Remember, it is gone before going to bed? I have it on the charger, in my office. I want to spend the first hour to two hours, every morning, just getting myself ready to go for the day. I’ve covered the strategies that I have implemented in a previous article.
5) This one, I am still working on, in full transparency. I use Spotify when I work out at the gym, and want to buy an iPod Touch or a device that supports Spotify so that I can still listen to my music while at the gym, but without my phone on me. Again, I want to be in the moment when working out at the gym, and even if an urgent fire is happening, the reality is, getting back to that within thirty minutes to an hour, won’t be the end of the world. I’ve run my company Chop Dawg for eight years now, and though we have had many significant hurdles, immediate issues, fires to put out that were urgent, none required a quick stop what you’re doing to do it. Yes, even if the server is down, the reality is, I have employees who would be working on it at the moment while trying to get ahold of me. Things would still be moving. But, I digress.
Listen, I am not the only one who has talked about this. It’s been evident for awhile that we are addicted to our devices. There have been talks about this addiction. Even other entrepreneurs have discussed how they need to take back their time and avoid the distractions, successful entrepreneurs at that. Seriously, Ryan Carson, the CEO of Treehouse, a huge company, does not even have email on his phone.
I can’t even get to that level yet.
I’m not getting rid of my phone. I’m not getting rid of the utility and value it gives me. I do believe, deep down, I could run my company just as efficiently without it, but, I still do not want to go that far. I just want to get to the level where I truly believe, and feel, and know, my phone gives me the value my company needs, when I need it, but is gone, out of sight, out of mind when it is not.
It’s just a start in the right direction, and I hope that by me bringing up the conversation I have had with myself internally over the past few months, I can spark this conversation with you too. A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs, veteran entrepreneurs, and yes, even serial entrepreneurs are facing the same issues but being too naive to see it. Let’s change that. Let’s take back our focuses in 2017, apply to what matters, and ensure our phones are a weapon at our disposal for productivity and value, not to convince ourselves we are busier than we need to be.
Let’s stop being addicted to our phones.