My friend Dean and I were chatting at a social function last week about the impact of modern technology on our lives. We both use technology daily and deeply in our businesses and certainly have no desire to return to pre-digital days. However, we found we both agreed about putting boundaries around the where, when and what.
What those boundaries are will vary from person to person; here for your consideration is one of Dean's.
'I used to use my mobile as my alarm clock,' he said, 'but it was too tempting to have one last look at email as I was hopping into bed. And if I got up in the night to one of the kids or had a loo stop, it became habit to have a quick peek. Recently I've started leaving it downstairs - and it's made a huge difference. Now I can properly switch off. Since I stopped doing it, I realise I'd become addicted to my phone, or more specifically, to the curiosity factor, the 'what if' possibility of something interesting at the other end of the communication.'
We didn't discuss what else might be going on in the bedroom, but think about it. If you've got romancing on your mind as you and your Beloved head in that direction and then your Beloved says, 'Oh hang on, I'll just check my emails first', who's in bed with you?
Or suppose something contentious or exciting shows up when you're having one of those 'I'll just peek as I go to the loo' moments? How good are you at getting back to sleep again?
And one more variation - you're sound asleep when an alert peeps, cheeps or sings. Your best quality sleep is rudely interrupted, you lie there telling yourself you're not going to look, but finally, by now wide awake, you say to yourself: 'Well, I'm just lying here wide awake now anyway - might as well find out what it is.'
Spell it out like this and most people would agree that late night (or middle of the night) smartphone usage is a bad plan! But you might be surprised how many people do it.
Unless it's a genuine crisis that demands immediate and instant action (and for most of us, that's exceedingly rare) what can you do about information that arrives in the middle of the night? Day will dawn soon enough and if you've been mentally dealing with 'stuff' instead of having a good night's sleep you'll quite likely be tired and below par in energy.
Of course there are exceptions such as:
* People who provide 24/7 support for critical industries. But they too need down time when they're off duty.
* Those who service international markets in different time zones and something truly serious or vital to the business is happening. However, if that pattern continues long-term, health or relationship problems will eventually rear their head.
* You've got teenagers out on the town, or seriously ill family members. Some families have a signal such as three rings, click off and then ring back immediately.
So, what about the alarm clock function on a smartphone? Am I saying don't use it? Not necessarily. The benefits are easy to see: simple and fast to set and you've always got a portable alarm clock.
Here are three possibilities, and I'd love to hear if you've got any other suggestions.
1. Get an alarm clock. Remember them?
2. Turn it to silent. I don't know about other models, but certainly with an iPhone you can turn your phone to silent (blocking any other alerts or rings) and the alarm will still go. CAUTION: I don't know if it works with other smart phones. Test it first!
3. You need it in the room but working on lessening the addiction factor. Put your phone as far away from the bed as you can, where you won't be tempted to check it during a loo stop. There's a further advantage if you normally struggle to get feet to floor - you'll have to jump out to turn it off.
Reader giveaway: We have 2 double passes (worth $190.00 each) to give away to Robyn's next 2- hour Breakfast Club event - in Christchurch on October 4. Robyn will cover how to deal with interruptions and other time-related issues.
Robyn Pearce (known as the Time Queen) runs an international time management and productivity business, based in New Zealand. Get your free report 'How To Master Time In Only 90 Seconds' and ongoing time tips at gettingagrip.com.