You are part of a shrinking minority these days if you do not own a smartphone. With an estimated two-thirds of the American population now possessing and regularly using smartphones, it is no longer abnormal to go out in public and see people with their faces buried in their screens. Moreover, as with most technological advances, the smartphone is supposed to make us more efficient and productive. However, is it really doing that?
A 2013 article published in the Wall Street Journal suggested, based on raw government numbers, that American productivity was increasing as a result of the massive uptick in smartphone use. Annual productivity increased an average of 3% per year from 1995 through 2004, which just happens to be the same era in which American homes and businesses began to connect online. Since 2004, however, annual productivity has only increased by about 1.5% annually.
All of this is well and good on a national level. What we are interested in is whether smartphones are hindering our production at a personal level. One can make a very strong case that they are.
A Major Distraction
As was mentioned earlier, it is nearly impossible to go out in public and not see people all around you with their faces buried in their smartphone screens. You might even be one of those folks who cannot seem to live for even a few minutes while being disconnected. All of this amounts to a major distraction that can easily hinder us from tending to even the most basic of daily tasks.
How many of us have let the dirty laundry pile up or failed to address that leaky faucet because so much time escaped while we connected with friends on social media? How many of us spend endless hours looking for apps to help organize our lives without ever actually becoming more organized? The truth is that we may intend only to spend 10 to 15 minutes online, only to find that 10 or 15 minutes turns into hours without us ever knowing what happened.
Another area in which the smartphone might be hindering individual production is in the area of decision-making ability. Prior to the advent of the information age, people actually had to learn how to observe the world around them in order to be able to make good decisions about everything from running a home to running a business. Now though, there is an app for that. Instead of being able to think through problems from A-Z, we are more likely to grab the smartphone and go online to look for someone else’s solution.
This may be good for those long-term decisions that do not need to be made quickly, but it is not good for those split-second decisions we are faced with every day. This seeming inability to quickly assess circumstances and make decisions that used to be commonplace results in us being less productive.
Tame the Phone
We are not suggesting the smartphone is a bad invention or that you should not have one. What we are suggesting is that it is time for us to start taming our phones. We need to control them as tools that can help make our lives easier; they should not control us by demanding our attention 24 hours a day.
One of the most important aspects of organization and productivity is prioritizing one’s attentions. We can describe it in a single word: focus. Indeed, the ability to focus is an absolute must-have quality for the concierge. We need to be able to go into any situation with the capacity to focus our attentions, as well as those of our clients, to the task at hand and its various solutions. We know firsthand how distracting a smartphone can be to that focus.
If you have a smartphone and it is interfering with your productivity, learn how to turn off. Then set boundaries for yourself. If you are willing to disconnect for a little bit each day to focus on things that are more important, you should find your personal productivity increasing.