For those of you wondering, my computer and to-do list were separate days. And all of these have been unintentional. But I’ve really enjoyed writing about the experiences. This whole forgetting things trend needs to be taken care of but that’s a topic for another day.
I recently got to the office ready to take on the day. I love days like that. I unlocked the door to my office and, out of habit, reached in my pocket for my smartphone to text my wife that I made it safely. After realizing that it was neither in my pocket or my briefcase, my recollection called up a picture of the kitchen counter with my iPhone sitting there charging (I assume it was also ready to take on the day)…
See, had this happened several years ago, I would’ve been sent into an instant panic, gone into withdrawals, and been incredibly bored at work. But as it stands, I’ve been making it a practice to do things like leave my phone in my office when I have a meeting with someone. I found that the constant buzzing was always interrupting anything I was creating and that isn’t good. I’ve also been working to reduce my dependence on my smartphone. If I can’t produce content and value for my company with my mind apart from my smartphone, I see myself as a severely limited resource.
That being said, I didn’t panic when I realized I didn’t have my phone with me. I called my wife from my desk phone and got started working. Here’s what happened:
My phone works as a music player and audio book reader throughout the day. The music works like white noise for me while I’m working. I’ve got a CD player in my office which I prefer to listen to, anyway. It just makes talking on the phone more difficult when I have to start and stop it. But being without my phone made me realize that, I don’t need music to get creative work accomplished. I just need to schedule the time to do it, and do the work. Speaking of which…
No Calendar Reminders
This one was a bit more difficult to work with. I get them on my computer when it’s time for the next meeting or to move on to the next task. But I had a couple of meetings run long and didn’t know what was next up on my calendar because my smartphone wasn’t with me. I’ve tried copying it down on paper to carry with me but that system lacks the ability to edit and move things around on it and have it sync across multiple platforms so I can tell where my time is being spent. I don’t have an answer for this yet. On this particular day, I just had to know what was coming up next and at what time.
This one is a given. I felt like I was in my creative zone a lot more without the little mobile distraction in my pocket. No temptation to check social media, the news, etc. This was actually pretty freeing. But I realized that my phone does give me some liberty away from my computer as a trade-off. Considering the movie screen of a computer that I was given when I came to this job, sometimes the freedom is worth the distraction. It’s also not like my web browser is completely innocent of the distraction crime either.
No Digital Notes
I keep all of my notes from meetings digital so that I can access them from anywhere. I do the same thing with business cards I receive. I take notes by hand and then copy them into my computer for later reference and the ability to search them quickly. Several times during meetings I needed to reference back to my notes from another meeting but was unable to do so because the paper copy was in my office in a file and the digital copy could only be accessed from my computer. Though smartphone addiction is serous, those little computers have been pretty fantastic at enabling us to be productive on the go and not have to be tied behind a desk. I think the larger return on investment is in face time (no, not the iPhone kind) with people, anyway.
I also had a really hard time with ideas for blog posts and other projects I’m working on. Normally, I’d just open the right app, drop the idea in somewhere, and come back to it later. But my ideas from the other day were all jumbled up on a sheet of paper. I felt less organized and constantly worried that I was forgetting something.
As I’m writing, I’m seeing a post emerge that is all about what I had to give up when I left my smartphone at home. The truth is that I did have to find some different ways to do things I usually do. There are some really productive things that my smartphone is used for (it’s also my phone book) and there are also some really distracting things. Ultimately, it’s a powerful tool that will do what I tell it to do. The responsibility is mine to use it appropriately.