The other day I scored major points with my son. He indirectly mentioned his concern about my iPhone obsession by commenting about how another soccer mom watched her phone more than the game.

“She’s reaaaaaaally manic about her phone, Mom,” he eyed me closely. He was looking for hand tremors, involuntary eye-twitching or anything to reveal whether or not I could take on his veiled challenge. (To my defense, I do watch his games, not my phone, but it is usually in my pocket, tugging at my thoughts even as I focus on the field).

In an effort to prove him I could do without my phone not only on the sidelines, but also in life, I snapped it off mid-day in the middle of my work week and headed for the pool.

“Looks like it’s going to be a hot one. And look, Son, I’m leaving my phone at home.” He raised not one, but both eyebrows as he watched me turn it off completely and calmly place it in the cupboard.

Can you hear the slot machine go ka-ching? Yes, I scored big with him that day. And you know what? Instead of drawing my attention to my phone screen, I had plenty of time to watch other people do it instead.

Is that really what I do all day? I watched people cling to their devices like an emphesymic patient to his oxygen tank. Because I knew my phone was at home, I felt more energetic, as if that holding pattern of “what is someone calls/texts/emails me” had been eradicated. And in truth, it had.

It appears many more of us are engaging in digital distractions than not these days.

My Wall Street trader friend on Twitter @StalinCruz pointed out an article about distracted walking that underscores our often harmful obsession with smartphones. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1,152 Americans have been injured in handheld digital device-related events while walking in the past few years. A man recently fell onto the train tracks in Philadelphia while playing with his phone. Luckily, he was not seriously injured, but it shows how all-consuming our electronics have become that we don’t even notice the danger of our own behavior.

A University of Maryland study spanning six years found 116 cases in which pedestrians were killed or seriously injured while wearing headphones, two-thirds of whom were men under the age of 30. Fifty percent of the cases involved trains, while 33% were incidents in which a warning horn was sounded just before the accident.

Believe it or not, I have friends who leave their cellphones behind when we meet. We enjoy hours-long conversations without the need to cache, photograph or Facebook every moment we spend together for their broader network. I find when I’m with people who’d rather update their social media status than update me on their lives, it is a classic cocktail party experience in which they are looking over your shoulder for someone better to interact with. It’s distracting at best. And in the case of walking, talking and texting, it can be lethal too.

Take the no phone zone challenge today. Leave that mobile behind and reconnect with people in the flesh with your eyes, ears and fingertips at the ready for a real, not virtual, human interaction. Turning on to life is worth it.

Trust me on this one.

 

 

By the year 2016 it is estimated that 43 percent of all US workers will work from home. That’s good news for the morning commute. But what about workplace productivity? Will we become even more isolated without all that watercooler chat?

Human beings are social animals. We need each other. So if it’s via Skype instead of via Starbucks at lunch, I’m wondering if we’ll build other types of home-based communities to fulfill that need. What about the National Association for the At-Home Worker? NAAHW! Or is that a ‘yes’?

Cisco’s stats speak for themselves. Enjoy!

The Mobile Workforce

 

In an effort to suspend judgement here, I must admit we’re a nation of ‘doing too much’. Perhaps it’s simply in our cultural DNA to don the can-do spirit like we would a Hoodie. But Daniel Pink raises a great question about that in a recent blog post. Just because we can-do doesn’t mean we should.

There. I said it. Should. It’s a word I try to avoid, but it’s times like these that require drastic measures. It seems as if our can-do spirit has us duped.

Really what Daniel’s saying is there are a lot of things we want to do; but that doesn’t necessarily lead us down the road to infinite happiness. We’re still human beings with all the frailities attached to it. We like to take short cuts and feel good about it in the process.

Like diet experts, he says, personal productivity gurus have mushroomed out of the ground in the last few years because no one seems to be crying “Halt — in the name of my sanity!” He explores the most powerful one-word sentence in the English language.

No.

Say it with me now ~ “No. Nope. Uh-uh.”

But is saying ‘no’ to ourselves, our wants, our could-do-ness, really all that fun? Really it’s not. Like cheese fries over cottage cheese, we are faced with choices that may not be as fun, but are ultimately better for us.

Take unplugging for a weekend as an example. Can you really feel whole by not turning on your smartphone first thing in the morning to see what you might have missed at night? It requires a whole skill set of discipline and mindfulness that you might not possess.

As my friend recently inquired, where do we get the willpower?

That’s where support systems (and, yes, personal productivity gurus) come in. We might need to set a process in place in which external reminders grab our attention when we swerve off the path of slow.

I’m not saying you should. But you could.

Will you?

 

Tech wizardry is yet another skill set the 21st Century demands. Don’t know basic html? You are in such trouble. Haven’t a clue how to configure an iPhone? You hack.

Life. It’s complicated.

Apart from feeling like the IT department, nay, the CIO of my family, I have been called to stretch my mind way farther into the Cloud than most people

As retrieved from CloudTimes.org

would admit. Upon the recommendation of a dear friend who’s just as iPhone-happy as I, I cheerily downloaded the latest iO5 software, which is iSpeak for a sleeker operating system that allows the iPhone to do cool things like check your email and let you surf the ‘Net (does anyone even call the Internet that anymore?), which is what prior operating systems let you do too, only this one is supposed to offer a more svelt experience. I, on the other hand, nearly died.

You see, my nifty little update completely erased all my phone contacts. And disengaged my iPhone from the mobile network. So, like many who experience an unexpected power outage, I panicked in the dark. That is, in the light. The light-ness of my dismembered inbox.

I sniffed. I snorted. I stomped. Dagnabbit! Someone else must have experienced the same thing. So I went to my (Microsoft!) desktop and checked out a few forums. Soft ways, hard ways, go to the Apple store ways. None of it helped. Until I remembered my mobile phone provider gave me a manual configuration sheet to follow when I first set the thing up. So here’s what you need to do if you too are lured into the sexy surrender of a software update on your iPhone that then paralyzes the use of your mobile network.

Step 1: before you do absolutely anything tricky like connect your iPhone to your iTunes account and expect it to innocently choose only those things that will make your life more convenient and not do a general swipe/swish/swoosh when you press ‘update’, forgettaboutit. iPhone does what iPhone wants. So keep that manual configuration data handy that your mobile provider used to set up your phone in the first place.

Step 2: Go to >Settings.  Tap >General, then >Network. Tap on >Mobile Data network.

Step 3: If your data has not be erased, genuflect to the tech gods who did well by you. If it has been, go to the next step.

Step 4: Put in the configuration data as it is listed on the sheet your mobile provider gave you. Don’t have it? Call them.

Step 5: Leave a comment here telling me about your experience. Did it work? Are you cheering gimme a P-O-W-E-R-O-F-S-L-O-W! What does that spell?

Ah. Forgettaboutit! But do leave a comment because we tech minds have to stick together. It is far too easy to get lost in the Cloud.

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Wednesday Wait a Minute!

October 26, 2011

In my new Wednesday Wait a Minute! video series, I will be exploring timely topics that will help you take one minute to pause. This week’s video looks at texting drivers and what we can do to reclaim the road with both hands.

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