Is Your Smartphone Hurting Your Career?
Our gravitation towards technology is actually damaging our in-person interactions.
“Staying connected” is just what we do. We simply can’t live without
our smartphones and other mobile devices. In fact, Pew Research Center
data suggests more Americans than ever own smartphones (77 percent)
and tablets (51 percent). But what happens when these productivity
tools, now standard-issue for most accounting and finance pros,
actually get in the way of productivity—and, ultimately, our careers?
As it turns out, our gravitation towards technology is actually damaging
our in-person interactions—not exactly good news for client-facing
“Mobile phones hold symbolic meaning. ... In their presence, people
have the constant urge to seek out information, check for communication,
and direct their thoughts to other people and worlds,” writes
Shalini Misra of Virginia Tech University, part of the team behind the
study, “The iPhone Effect: The Quality of In-Person Social Interactions
in the Presence of Mobile Devices.”
“Even without active use, the presence of mobile technologies has the
potential to divert individuals from face-to-face exchanges, thereby
undermining the character and depth of these connections,” she continues.
The study further revealed that conversations in the presence of
mobile devices—even among people with close relationships—were
less fulfilling, less friendly, and less empathetic.
What’s more, “Technology, particularly communication technology, is
the number one distraction [at work] in almost all studies,” says Larry
Rosen, psychologist and co-author of “The Distracted Mind: Ancient
Brains in a High-Tech World,” in an interview with MarketWatch. “We
know that people check in every 15 minutes or less and, as soon as
they check in it will take upwards of 20 minutes to return to the task
they were working on.”
So, what to do?
For starters, if you want to have a real, engaging face-to-face conversation
with a client, colleague, friend—actually, anyone—try turning
off your smartphone, putting it in your bag or pocket, or leaving it well
out of reach.
For those of us that simply can’t live in a digital-free zone for more than
a few minutes, Rosen suggests at least taking a break every 90 minutes.
“Technology is inundating all of our sensory levels and our brains
become tired,” he says. “What you want to do is to take a break to
calm your brain activity.”