When you are talking to someone, do you ever pull out your smartphone and, while still maintaining eye contact, select the incoming email or text, look down and respond?
Experts say that as many as 6 percent of smartphone users could be termed addicts. According to a Rutgers University study, 49 percent of people say they keep their email devices nearby when they sleep so that can listen for new messages.
Are we so addicted to smartphones that we cannot take a break long enough to sleep or hold an uninterrupted conversation?
It’s destructive. Every time we get an email we are rewarded with good feelings of being needed. Experts say the addiction starts with an incident that demands increased attention, such as a project with a tight deadline or the unexpected loss of a team member — and it slowly grows from there.
As colleagues and clients recognize your increased responsiveness, they start gradually expecting more. Plus, feeling needed is a powerful motivator. Thus, the cycle spirals out of control.
Once you have curbed your usage, you’ll probably start concentrating better and feeling more relaxed and connected to your surroundings — and maybe even to your real life. Here is how to curb the addiction:
1. Interval checks
Check your smartphone only in between meetings. Think about and be conscious of why you check your phone so often. Is it really work pressure? Or is it loneliness or boredom? How can you better fill that time?
2. Message accumulation
Let your new messages pile up — you will find that the world will not end. Then spend time thinking and thoughtfully responding to each one, as opposed to the quick response you might have fired off upon receipt.
3. Small steps
Wean yourself little by little. Start by not checking your phone for 15 minutes at a time, then 30, then 60, then 90 minutes. Once you reach 90, you are ready to go an evening or afternoon without the phone at your hip.
4. Become a stickler for grammar
Use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation in your emails. Not only does this make you appear more professional, but it will also tone down the rapid-fire interaction that makes email so addictive.
As a final blow to the addiction – consider removing your email from your phone. This finally weaned me off of it, and I haven’t looked back. Plus, there is always an iPad or a laptop if I really need to respond.
© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.