With my constant travel schedule and reliance on apps to help run my business, it is no wonder I am a self-professed
smartphone addict. While it offers so much convenience for my life as an entrepreneur, the recent addition to our family has served as an extra reminder about the importance of maintaining a work-life balance — something that a smartphone often infringes upon.
It is taught me how to look for specific ways to ensure that my smartphone is not offsetting the work-life balance I have been striving to achieve, despite my workaholic bent. By sharing these with my fellow entrepreneurs, I hope to influence more people to put their smartphones in their place.
Here are some strategies I have implemented that have helped make my smartphone less of a distraction:
1. Set a usage schedule. While this can be tricky since most of us are practically running our businesses from our smartphones, it is possible. I created an alert on my smartphone that told me when it was time to step away from it, including texts, social media, email and browsing. Typically, I have my usage schedule for chunks of time in the early morning, midday and later in the evening. There are times where I may have to take a call, but typically everything else can wait until a designated period of time.
2. Establish technology-free days or vacations. I designate a day or two each month where I step away from my smartphone for the entire day, or for designated days during a vacation with my family. This ensures I spend quality time outdoors or with my wife and daughter, friends and family. It has been the most difficult thing I have done, but this way I am able to make the most of that time.
3. Ban smartphones from certain activities. My staff knows that when we do our daily walks together, smartphones are to be left back in the office. If I am out with my daughter on a stroll, I also leave my phone at home and focus on her. Other places that you may want to consider banning your smartphone from include the gym, movie theater, dinner dates with loved ones and movie or game night with friends or family. These activities deserve your full attention and are the types of things that really create that work-life balance. Do not mix the two together.
4. Put it out of sight so it’s out of mind. When it is close to bedtime, I keep my phone far away from sight. At work, I like to put it in a drawer or leave it in my pocket so that I do not see it on my nightstand or desk and find I cannot control my urge to pick it up and check my notifications.
5. Work toward weaning yourself off of usage. I did not immediately take an entire day or two off from technology but had to essentially wean myself from using my smartphone as much as I was. I started by taking one less hour a day and gradually adding more time to what I was spending on other things in order to replace the smartphone usage. It was not easy at first but within a month, I started to not miss it so much.
5. Stay busy with more important things. Once I focused on activities with my friends and family as well as handling work processes that didn’t require my smartphone, I did not miss the once-treasured device as much as I thought I would.
6. Recognize the place it has in your life. It is important to continually reflect on the idea that smartphones really do help us get balance in our lives by taking care of so many tasks for us. They provide us with apps that streamline our work and shorten many jobs that often take us away from personal time. Smartphones can also help remind us when we need to focus on our personal lives. Now, I see my phone as a tool to pull out when I need to fix something or make an improvement. Otherwise, it goes back in the toolbox.
By sticking to these strategies, I feel more relaxed and happy, making great memories with the most important people in my life who mean so much more than a text, Facebook update or Instagram post. By trying some out for yourself, you may just see your own productivity level skyrocket at work, providing you with even more personal time to enjoy.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Image credit: CC by United Soybean Board