Our smartphones are like a new appendage. We tote them with us everywhere we go, and when they’re out, we rarely take our eyes off of them. But all of that texting and staring can add up to a whole bunch of musculoskeletal and attentional difficulties, neither of which do wonders for your performance at work. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a number of ways that putting down your smartphone can be a great boost for your career.
1. Your Body Will Feel Better
Texting on your smartphone can lead to “text thumb” or “gorilla arm” — that pain that starts in your thumb, radiating up your arm and into your neck. Staring at a tiny screen undoubtedly leads to hunching and a host of musculoskeletal and vision problems. That’s bad enough on its own, but it can be all the worse when you’re also typing and mousing all day on a traditional flat keyboard and a non-ergonomic mouse.
Getting rid of that pain by typing on an ergonomic split keyboard, mousing with a mouse that’s built to fit your hand, and putting down your smartphone will make you more productive at work. Without pain to distract you, your mind will be free to think creatively and efficiently. What’s more, you’ll be less likely to have to take time off for carpal tunnel syndrome surgery down the line.
2. You’ll Get Less Distracted
Not only is pain distracting — smartphones themselves are distracting, too. Come on, admit it: when you’re alone in your cubicle and your smartphone is sitting on your desk, you can feel Facebook and sports stats and mobile games and personal email calling to you. Even when you have the discipline not to check your phone for a good stretch, giving yourself a short reward for working well always turns into minutes and then suddenly the hour is gone. And just when you’re back on task, here comes that super alluring witty text you just have to answer.
When you turn your phone to silent and even go so far as to put it in another room, all of these problems go away. Sure, you’ll feel that smartphone itch at first. But once you’re over that initial hump, you’ll revel in your return to the good old concentration days of yore. And you’ll probably marvel at how much you get done.
3. You’ll Engage Better
Even when you’re texting under the table during a meeting — scratch that, especially when you’re texting under the table during a meeting — everyone knows what you’re doing, and they know you’re not fully in the room. And if you’re so distracted by your smart phone that just having it around pulls your thoughts away, you don’t even have to be on it to disengage while your colleagues are exchanging ideas.
Leave the smartphone at your desk for meetings. You’ll feel refreshed to find yourself engaging so deeply with your colleagues. The depth and creativity of your ideas may even surprise you. Brainstorming and collaborating well require being fully in the room.
4. You’ll Sleep Better
The blue light emitted by smartphones and other devices can throw off your Circadian rhythms. This is especially true if you’re a big fan of reading your smartphone in bed. Your Circadian rhythms can be further vulnerable to attack if your phone is set to buzz at night. Or if you check your texts after your midnight bathroom break. Swapping the phone for a good book at least an hour before bed will ensure you get a good night’s sleep. You need to be on your A game at work the next morning.
Even better: try not to check your smartphone immediately upon waking, either. This way you’ll still have room in your brain for your own thoughts before immediately being bombarded by the demands of the world around you.
5. You’ll Work More Productively When You’re Not Working All the Time
Unfortunately, many workplace cultures require that we be “on” all the time, within easy reach of our smartphones. It may be impossible for you to draw boundaries, but if you can at least draw some, every bit of research indicates that it’s better to work in concerted sprints than it is to work haphazardly, as if you are constantly on call. In other words, you’ll get more done more quickly if you take the time to rest. Save tasks like checking email for when you’ve booked aside a specific time at your desk. So, if possible, let your colleagues know that you won’t be checking your smartphone after a certain hour, except in cases of emergency — and that they’ll all be better for it.