In March when I was flying to Germany for a conference I had a middle seat on the plane. When they instructed us to shut off our phones, the lady next to me proceeded to shut off all four of her phones (no that is not a typo … four) Thankfully she couldn’t keep using them! Delta and JetBlue have announced they will not be allowing phone calls while in flight. Applause please!  THANK YOU!

I could go on a rant about why it’s good they’re not going to allow calls during flights … but I’m not going to. Where this topic struck me more is the connectedness of our world in general. Why do we believe in our need to be connected to the point we cannot turn our phone off for the duration of a flight? I know many people who believe our connectedness has enhanced the speed at which business can happen. I don’t agree.

I’ve been in meetings where everyone has a laptop open. At any given time several people in the room are likely reading an email. Others are using instant messenger to talk with someone not in the meeting. Someone else is holding their smartphone below the table reading and maybe responding to something (seriously … we know what you’re doing … so why are you trying to hide it?!?) As for the meeting there are several occurrences of miscommunication or repeated statements because people aren’t paying attention.  Hmmm

Lets go beyond the work place and talk about a person so focused on their smart phone she falls into a fountain. Or how about the drivers who believe their connectedness exceeds the requirement to not kill someone with their car!  It’s not hard to find an increasing number of examples of how our connectedness is changing human behaviour.

In thinking of how connected we are I strongly believe we’ve decreased our capacity to do ‘real’ work. For example … I know people who boast they get 100 or 200 emails every day at work. Lets assume on average complex emails take 10 mins of your time, some take 5 mins and most take 2 mins.  If this is true 100 emails consume:

10 emails @ 10 mins = 100 mins
10 emails @ 5 mins = 50 mins
80 emails @ 2 mins = 160 mins
Total = 310 mins  (And this doesn’t account for the cost of multitasking)

In an 8 hour work day you only have 480 mins in total to work with. Now add in reading blogs (like this one ;-)), books, magazines, checking Facebook and much more. So when do we find time to get any real work done? Anyone else see a problem here?  No wonder the world economies are in crisis … no-one is getting any work done!

I don’t know what the real answer is to this dilemma. I doubt one blogger’s rant is going to save us from this avalanche of information. However, there are things you can start changing tomorrow allowing for more time to focus on delivering valuable stuff for your customer? There’s lots of ideas out there:

  • Schedule times in your day to check email
  • Turn off the email notifications that pop up every time you receive an email
  • Stop thinking you need to respond instantly to everything you receive
  • Ban electronics in your meetings
  • Talk to someone rather than emailing them (especially if they sit next to you)

I like my Blackberry and what it does for me as a tool. However as someone who travels a few times per year on business I have to admit I enjoy turning my phone off for the duration of a flight. It’s a period of time I can just kick back and relax. Sometimes I watch a show. Other times I read a book. I rarely sleep but that’s just me not being built for sleeping in an airline seat. I just enjoy the time where I can recharge undisturbed. We need to create more times like this!

 

 

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