The small business column: Put down that mobile device

In this week’s Small Business column Kehlan Kirwan looks at why it pays to put down your mobile devices when you get the chance.

Technology has influenced every aspect of our lives. If you want something, you can get it delivered to your door without ever leaving your house.

From the moment we wake to the moment we close our eyes in the evening we are bombarded with updates, tweets, click bait and more. For many people the first thing they do in the morning is pick up their phone.

Checking e-mails on the toilet, tweeting on the way to work and having Facebook open on the sly at work — this is the new normal.

I read an interesting article a number of months ago about why we are finding it harder and harder to focus on tasks and jobs. In short, it described how we can now do everything on our phones.

Years ago travel agents, ticket offices and music stores offered services we couldn’t get elsewhere. Now, we can do all those things ourselves.

We have taken over someone else’s job and given it to ourselves. Without realising it we have slowly turned our lives from multi-tasking to multi-jobbing and the strain is beginning to show.

A recent TIME magazine article showed that people who spend a lot of time ‘multi-screening’ have shown signs of having a worse attention span than that of a goldfish.

A coherent thought stream is lasting no longer than 12 seconds. In other words, we are getting distracted more easily.

These distractions mean we are taking longer to do tasks as we try to e-mail, tweet, Facebook, read and absorb more information. This is affecting how we work and the standard to which we work.

So what is the solution? Of course we cannot simply walk away from technology; we’ve become too reliant on it. However, we can make an effort to produce an environment where we are not consumed by it.

Volkswagen car makers recently barred their management teams from using e-mail past 7pm in the evening.

The constant connection was burning out their staff and the cord had to be cut. Therein lies the problem. We have become tethered to technology.

I took a trip to my local garage the other day. I got chatting with the owner about cars and technology. As the conversation evolved he made a pretty stark point.

We have dishwashers, phones, smart TVs and a host of other technologies. Yet we are more time-starved than ever before. We seem to have no time in the day to do anything.

We are quite literally being driven to distraction and I don’t know how many times I’ve started writing before I know it, five minutes later, I’m wondering what I was doing in the first place.

Technology is a wonderful thing but in the business world, it can be your Achilles heel.

Time is only on your side when you stop making time for distractions. I have in recent months tried to wean myself off technology to a degree.

It’s not going well. When you run your own business there is no nine to five but our time is finite.


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