Is your cell phone killing your personal effectiveness?

Is your cell phone killing your personal effectiveness

I have never been a really big cell phone user. But recently I noticed that I was using it a bit more than I really wanted to or was healthy.

Instead of using it with a set purpose or intention I had, on occasions, started to use it in a way that damaged my personal effectiveness and didn’t best serve my life, business and relationships.

So me, my husband and son sat down to have a family meeting on the subject.

We discussed what purpose we wanted cell phones to have in our lives, what would add value and what is unhealthy for us as individuals and as a family. We decided to set a family “contract” with the boundaries we had mutually agreed.

Here are some of those boundaries:

  • No phones in bedrooms
  • Phones off during family time – e.g. mealtimes, family outings, playing games etc
  • Phones not to be carried around all the time – stored in a drawer when at home. Stored in car or a bag during trips out and switched off.
  • Phones purely used as phones. Not for internet surfing.
  • Not used for business

Being intentional about the role cell phones play in our lives has a massive impact not just on our personal effectiveness but also on the quality of our life, business and relationships. We only have to look around (and look in the mirror!) to see how much we let these devices detract from what is most important. For example:

– The negative impact chatting on the phone, texting or surfing the internet when out to spend quality time with family, friends and business contacts has on the quality of relationships.

– Parents who gush how their kids are the most important thing to them yet they spend their time at their kids clubs, sports events, concerts etc focussing on their phone instead of focussing on their kids.

– People damaging their business relationships by answering texts or the phone during a discussion.

– What about the damage being permanently connected does to things like health, stress, quality of life, wellbeing, relationships, productivity, personal effectiveness etc?

I wonder, is what is happening on peoples cell phones really more important to them than the activity they are supposed to be engaged in at that time?

To stop cell phones from negatively impacting our personal effectiveness requires two key things:

Having a clearly defined purpose and rules for their use and setting strong boundaries to enforce that.

This will help to ensure that these gadgets actually serve and add value to our effectiveness, rather than detract from it.

With that in mind, I would like to throw out these ideas to experiment with:

  • Clearly define what purpose you have a cell phone for.
  • Set clear, strong boundaries that will reflect that.
  • Set up some sort of accountability arrangement with a friend, family member or colleague to help you set yourself up to succeed and make your new boundaries become habit.
  • What action will you take to implement those boundaries? When?

The cost to your personal effectiveness of not having a clear purpose and strong boundaries around your cell phone affects all areas of your life, business and relationships.

Do you need to take more control of your usage to improve your personal effectiveness?

Have fun challenging yourself with this.

Please share your boundaries, experiences and opinions on this subject in the comments below.


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  • malcolmwot

    Thanks Ali, it’s good to have a reminder of what’s important and what’s peripheral! I try to do much of what you outlined but have occasional lapses!

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Hi Malcolm, I think we all for those lapses from time to time. I find the combination of a clear prupose and strong, clearly defined boundaries helps keep them to a minimum. Having the whole family as an accountability team is quite powerful too.

  • Lori Gosselin

    You make a lot of good points Ali! I love how you had a family meeting on the subject and agreed on a set of actions.
    I have avoided moving to the cell phone. I know it’s allure would be challenging. I do love to be connected with my daughter who is away and I can do that with the iPod but my biggest objection to having a cell phone is being 100% available – to anyone – at any time. Our Canadian comedian once referred to a cell phone as an “electronic leash”. Funny but scary.
    More people need to think about this. Having that clear objective; knowing why you’re paying the big bucks for the smart phone is a good place to start.
    Lori

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Hi Lori,
    We like to do family meetings on lots of things. Helps keep us all on the same page and makes things a lot easier when we have all agreed on the same thing.

    I think the cell phone is pretty much the same as all thngs in life and work – needs pretty strong boundaries and accountability to keep it healthy! Thanks for dropping by.

  • SharonGreenthal

    I don’t like seeing families sitting in a restaurant, everyone looking at their screens. I especially am bothered by toddlers staring at videos while the adults ignore them. Interaction at that age is so important for verbal development.

    Having said that, I see cell phones and ipads as the new newspapers and magazines. It used to be I wouldn’t leave the house without those or a book. Now I can scan the news while waiting in line or sitting in the doctor’s office instead of carrying those with me.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Yes, seeing the negative impact gadgets can have on family life is sad. But as you point out, there is also value and benefit too. I think the key is to have boundaries, standards and be intential so that they stay as benefits and don’t become unhealthy in our lives.

  • http://www.lookforthewoman.com look for the woman

    I’m on my cell-phone much too much, but I’m trying to build a “brand” and social media is so important in that. Once you start getting followers it’s just addictive, right? You just want to see those notifications… I do have to limit myself though, it’s getting obsessive. I like your suggestion about being intentional. That’s good.

  • http://www.boomeresque.com/ Suzanne Fluhr (JustOneBoomer)

    For awhile, I had the opposite problem. I often had my cell phone off during the work day which meant my office could not reach me when they wanted to. I know that’s how it used to be, but quite honestly, expectations have changed in that regard. Still, of course, it’s important to know when it should be off. I really worry when I see people in the park with their little babies or toddlers searching their faces and instead of returning the eye contact, the parent or caregiver is engrossed in the small screen of their smart phone. Something tells me that detachment might have negative consequences in the future.

  • http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com Rena

    I do use mine more often than I should but fortunately for me they didn’t have them when my kids were growing up. Now it doesn’t matter so much except when I have my grandchildren and then I turn them off completely.

  • Leisa Hammett

    Thanks for publishing this. I have had to set limits with Facebook. I have always been firm about allowing phones to interfere with relationships and am good on that and carry that to the point that I almost never talk on my phone in public, even around strangers. If I have to take a call, I try to step outside, if I can. What I’m not good at is how quickly I turn to it in spare gaps of time. Thanks again for this thoughtful piece. Good for you!

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    I think setting and implementing strong boundaries, systems and routines can really help with this sort of situation.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    You raise a really important point Suzanne – some of the consequences might not become apparent until some time in the future.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    I love how strong your boundary is with your phone when your grandkids are around.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Glad you found it useful Leisa.