It sounds as if I’m exaggerating. They can do so much. They’re such lovely toys. You’ve just got to have one, haven’t you?
Besides they don’t cost that much to own, do they?
Smartphones and your business
I won’t name any names, because every one has their likes and dislikes. They also have their favourite apps and games. There’s nothing wrong with that. Smartphones are fun. That’s why people buy them.
However, let’s stick to the business context. Let’s think about smartphones as tools to support business.
- How useful is your smartphone?
- How does your smartphone help you to succeed?
- Does your smartphone add value to your business?
- Do you need a smartphone to help you in your business (as opposed to an ordinary mobile ‘phone, a laptop etc)?
I’ve got a real-life and absolutely true story about the cost of having and using a smartphone for you to consider as you think about your answers.
Smartphones kill productivity
I regularly meet clients in the coffee area of hotels. We work on aspects of their business. We discuss the white papers and e-guides they want written. We plan online sales campaigns. We work on Twitter and Facebook strategies. We write website copy and decide how to improve LinkedIn profiles.
These are all tasks that a business owner needs to pay attention to. After all, they are essential to his or her success. They can make or break the business.
- Some clients give their attention to these tasks and we make good progress.
- Some clients are distracted every few minutes and we either make slow progress or no progress.
Two of our clients barely concentrate on the meetings because their eyes are flicking to their smartphones every few seconds. If I open my briefcase to bring out papers they quickly check their emails and their texts. If I leave the table for any reason, they’re immediately texting or checking how an app works at that location, or planning their journey to their next destination.
When you remember that they’re paying The Adams Consultancy Ltd whilst they’re concentrating on their smartphones, these are expensive activities.
They’re also planning the future of their businesses with the help of a successful business strategist, but they’re not paying attention to the problems we’re trying to solve.
Smartphones bring the urgent and the interesting to you
Business owners and managers have always had lots of calls on their time.
You know, you absolutely know, what you need to work on to ensure your business survives, profits and grows. It’s just that other tasks demand your attention. There are lots of things that need doing urgently. There are also things you know you would like to spend time on, but you really should delegate.
In reality, what happens is that the important things often have to wait.
- These days lots of those urgent but not important tasks arrive via your smartphone.
- These days lots of the distractions that business leaders have always faced are compounded via a smartphone.
That’s a problem because over the years business people have learned to deal with interruptions. They have learned to deal with the deluge of emails they receive. They have disciplined themselves to delegate and relinquish interesting tasks as they take on more strategic roles.
As yet, many business people haven’t realised the threat that the smartphone brings with it, so they haven’t developed strategies for getting things done despite the smartphone.
So here’s a warning. You’re probably working less productively now you have a smartphone.
The immediate update or the engaging “conversation” always seems to take precedence over other tasks. It’s more interesting to catch up with the news or someone’s activities than it is to take those hard and important decisions. You become convinced that you must you deal with that issue that’s just come up.
Your smartphone can do even more than bring the urgent to you.
It can distract you with all those apps. You can surf. You can do so much more with modern ‘phones than you could with ordinary mobile ‘phones. Smartphones are fun. That’s part of the problem.
Your smartphone is costing you more than you think
If you want to work out how much your smartphone is costing you, think about the value of your time.
If you haven’t seriously considered that your smartphone could be a liability, then I’d like to remind you of a couple of interesting statistics.
A ten second interruption takes three minutes.
A thirty second interruption takes ten minutes.
If you’re distracted from what you’re doing for any reason, it takes time for your mind to focus again on your original task. The longer the disruption the longer it takes to get back to what you were doing. Of course, if you’re distracted often enough, you give up and just wait for the next distraction.
- Your smartphone allows other people to distract you.
- Your smartphone allows, and maybe encourages, you to distract yourself.
Whatever it is you pay yourself, you’re costing your business money during these distractions. Worse, you’re not bringing in the money your business needs, because you’re not doing the things you need to do to succeed. You’re taking your mind away from your business.
Those two clients of mine that I spoke about earlier have very expensive smartphones in terms of the time they use up focusing on them when they really need to be thinking about what matters to their business.
One of them was prepared to listen to me when I talked about opportunity costs, the other one – well, you can guess what he did. He looked at his messages, nodded and didn’t pay attention to our discussion.
Do you need to smash your smartphone?
There’s a whole discussion to be had as to whether you need a smartphone at all.
Of course, smashing your smartphone would be a bit extreme. No doubt, you’ll want to find a way to keep yours
Which of the following will help you to live in harmony with your smartphone?
- Only get your smartphone out when you need to use it.
- Don’t do anything that you really don’t need to do with your smartphone, at least during business hours.
- Don’t tweet or go onto Facebook or any other social platform when you know you should be working on something else.
- Only reply to calls, texts and emails at specific times in the day.
- Don’t answer your smartphone when it rings, if you are working on a complex task. (In fact, have it set so it doesn’t ring. That means you won’t hear anything and you won’t be disturbed.)
Tempting as it is to keep looking at it, your smartphone just another business tool.
Treat it like that and you won’t need to smash it to regain control of your business.
What have I missed?
Have you any strategies for making sure your smartphone doesn’t distract you from your work that you would like to share?
Let’s hear about them in the comments.