I have a confession to make that you might not have heard before- I LOVE my Smartphone. (OK you might have heard it from someone else, but not from me!)
I carry it with me everywhere even when I haven’t brought my wallet. I love being able to Google anything at anytime (how many episodes of Hogan’s Heroes were there anyway?)
I’m more productive in many ways because it’s with me pretty much all the time. I can check my email and respond to critical decisions when I have a few seconds to kill. I can easily check and update my calendar if I’m out of the office and need to schedule an appointment. I can pay bills, quickly check the weather, and SO much more!
But I’m also aware of a problem. For a long time I’ve been a little worried that my Smartphone might be actually making me less productive. And its not the radiation I’m talking about!
But over the last few years I’ve come to realize I’m actually nervous when I don’t have my phone nearby. Almost like a smoker without his cigarettes, but its not like I can just borrow someone else’s whenever I feel like I need a “fix.”
It seems like in the rush to be productive and do many things at once, many of us will find that we don’t do any of the tasks particularly well. In a recent study in the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes have shown that multitasking is really not possible. Actually juggling your assignments may be making you less, not more, efficient. Switching mindsets, multitasking or trying to do two or more tasks simultaneously, may have other drawbacks. Besides decreasing your efficiency, it can cause poor short-term memory and decision-making.
Furthermore, multiple switching in mindsets (e.g. from abstract to concrete) lessened the study subject’s ability to apply self-control in situations. Every time the subjects switched from one mode to the other it depleted a finite amount of mental energy- the energy that is used for self-control.
We’ve actually seen this in an architectural context as clients switch from imagining their life in their new home and coming back to deciding on which door knobs they want to use on their main floor rooms. At the end of a day of making decisions in their day jobs how good are tired clients at determining their best course of action? This is what makes an architect’s job even more valuable! Understanding the construction jungle and providing the guidance for clients is something that really helps our clients avoid pitfalls that they might not even realize they are making if they would be acting alone.
What about in other fields besides architecture? Well it could be that all this technology is not actually helping us make better decisions or get more work done. It might just be causing us to expend more precious mental energy in switching back and forth (giving us the illusion that we are doing more) while making us prone to bad decisions such as grabbing that last donut or even something with greater impacts!
So what can you do? Well if you are Travis Coty, copywriter and author of the upcoming book “30 Days Unplugged” you can UNPLUG from the last 15 years of technological advancements for 30 days. (Can you imagine doing this yourself? How did he ever survive?)
Of course, being a copywriter, author, AND stand up comedian Travis documented the whole thing on a camcorder. (Yes, he knows that’s technology too, but it was around 15 years ago)
He had a lot of time on his hands so he did an exhaustive amount of reading about the impact that Smartphones, social media, iPads, and other forms of technology are having our bodies and the way we relate to each other
See the first installment of his experiment at: http://30daysunplugged.com/
But me, I’m going to continue to use my Smartphone. I’m just under no illusions that it is actually making me smarter.