5% battery remaining… It’s a heart-stopping moment, isn’t it…? A race against time to reach a charger so that you can stay connected to the outside world…
It might sound melodramatic, but as a global population, we’re becoming increasingly attached to our phones. Recent research by phone-finding app Lookout has proved that 58% of smartphone owners check their mobiles at least once per hour. Alarmingly, 30% of those surveyed check their phones while at the dinner table, 40% are glued to the screen whilst in the bathroom and 24% are tapping away at the wheel.
Since 1996, when smartphones were released into the mainstream marketplace, the office has gradually infiltrated our personal lives. With the real-time nature of texts and e-mails, it’s almost impossible to only work the 9-5. When we’re not at work, we’re now on-call 24/7. And it shows. Lookout’s survey showed that 54% of people check their phone whilst in bed; that’s before bed, during the night and first thing in the morning. It’s not just Monday to Friday either; in another survey, 48% of people admitted to checking their work e-mails over the weekend and over half of them were working whilst on holiday, too.
This constant connection means that we often feel much busier than we actually are. By 9.30 am, you’re probably feeling swamped, but in reality, it’s unlikely that you’ve even yet spoken to a real-life person (not via FaceTime). These days, we’re notified about almost everything; your friend’s boyfriend is unhappy at his job and might leave it for freelancing, Groupon are doing a two-for-one offer on roller skates, Stacey you went to primary school with is at Alton Towers for the day. In fact, Apple recently revealed that it has sent 1.5 trillion push notifications to date – but how many of these were urgent? (No, your opponent’s move on Words With Friends isn’t urgent.)
Ironically, it’s likely that you’re reading this very article on your smartphone, in amongst scrolling through your e-mails, Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps you’re also watching the TV? Maybe you’re killing time on your way home from work? But when was the last time you just sat down, in peace and without distraction?
Much of this is down to FOMO. A recently coined term, Fear Of Missing Out plagues the go-getters of the modern world. Whether it’s FOMO on the latest Twitter trend or an e-mail from our bosses, we’re all trapped in a vicious circle; pressing power-down gives us time to relax, but leaves us with the worry of appearing out-of-the-loop.
As well as helping us to relax, hitting the off button can significantly benefit your productivity. In a recent blog post for The Salt Lake Tribune, Brett Prettyman reports that “the constant bombardment of technology and urban life is draining the frontal portion of the brain, suppressing problem solving, decision making and creativity”. Not only this, but it’s been proven that people who spent four days amongst nature and away from smartphones and laptops scored 50% higher in creativity tests.
So, how can you CC some rest into the subject line of your day? In reality, it’s not your personal addiction to your touch-screen which is the problem – it’s our addiction as a whole. Therefore, if you take a break from your sent box, your inbox is likely to take a hit. Resisting the urge to network is like resisting that last chocolate in the box: if you’ve got the willpower, no problem! If not, make a deal with your nearest and dearest, as well as your closest work colleagues. Let them know the hours during which you’ll be having down-time and ask them only to contact you if it’s urgent. It’s likely that they’ll be glad of the break, too! If that isn’t your style, Apple have created an ingenious new function on their devices. The Do Not Disturb tool allows you to set your phone to only alert you to calls from your favourites. That way, you can take a break, safe in the knowledge that you can be contacted in emergencies.
So, relax! You’re really not as busy as you think you are. Next time you’re around the dinner table or on the sun lounger, remember that you shouldn’t have a FOMO on tweets and e-mails – you should have a FOMO on life!
Xenia is a writer and blogger, currently based in London. She has had lots of experience within the media; spending time at places such as The Sunday Times, The BBC and S Magazine. Writing for YCB is something that she loves, as well as blogging for her own site; www.thedayoffdiaries.com. Follow her on Twitter @XeniaRimmer !View all Xenia Rimmer posts.