By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University
If you’re an iPhone user, you may have noticed something new that showed up on your phone with the latest iOS version 12.0. It’s called Screen Time. When active (the default setting), it keeps a daily and weekly record of how much time you’re spending on your phone and each of your apps. Among other features, you can even set a limit to notify you if you’re spending too much time on a particular app, like a favorite game or social media channel. The idea, says Apple, is to give users more control by empowering them with insight into how they’re spending time on their devices.
Why is Apple touting this new feature? Because most of us spend way too much time preoccupied with our devices and the CyberWorld they connect us to. These technologies are compelling, convenient and engaging. Plus, they are continually pinging us with alarms and notifications that something requires our attention. Who can resist picking up a ringing telephone, even in the middle of intense, concentrated activity?
Psychologists and techies have a name for this compulsion. It’s called Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO. Especially for users of news and social media apps, the worry is that you will miss a post, or fail to respond to a query, or appear aloof, or lose “friends” or followers on your feed. You become a slave to the tool rather than its master.
Last year, I wrote about some research that showed FOMO can develop into an actual psychological dependency, leading, for some, to device addiction. I hope that’s not true for you. Nonetheless, if you recognize yourself as someone who spends a lot of time online and on devices, consider the impact that’s having on your business.
Multiply that ringing telephone by 10 or 20 or more telephones sounding all day long. Think about how much time you are spending each day answering the phone—literally or figuratively! That’s time you are stealing from your business, time you could be doing billable work, recruiting your next client, or developing the next area for growth.
Of course, there are legitimate reasons to be online. You may be promoting your services or responding to queries from clients and potential clients, managing your team, or doing research for a project. I suspect, though, that is relatively small compared to the amount of time wasted on less important or trivial preoccupations.
Try using Screen Time or keeping a log for just a week or two. You may be surprised to learn how much unproductive time is leaking out of each workday. Do yourself a favor, and give that time back to your business. I guarantee you’ll find that a lot more satisfying than answering the phone.