Addicted to your Smartphone?

In my last article, I talked about the silliness of a CEO’s belief that smartphones are bad. There is another side to that coin – some people are really, truly addicted to their favorite mobile device. Or at least “have issues.”

If you are one of those, what can you do? Here are some suggestions, culled from the depths of Google (ok – just the first 8 or so articles that I found):

  1. Turn off notifications. I do this with email (because I get too much). I manually check email on my iphone, rather than having my iphone alert me to email every minute or so. Works great.
  2. Uninstall apps if they become a problem.
  3. Turn on Airplane Mode when you need to focus.
  4. Don’t answer the phone/text/email/tweet/etc. Some people even schedule times during the day to process emails/voicemails/social media replies, etc.
  5. Charge your phone somewhere other than your bedroom. Or, some smartphones let you set a “no notifications” time.
  6. Use a “smartphone addiction” app like Moment or Breakfree
  7. Do something that doesn’t involve your phone.
  8. Or, just turn it off. You’ll save battery life, too!

Control your device – don’t let your device control you!

Image by Buzzfarmers

Put the iPhone Down

smartphones and feature phonesI just saw this article (via Beth Kanter’s Twitter feed) about the evils of smartphones. In this particular article, Sheldon Yellen talks about being a more effective CEO by continuing to use his old flip phone.

He says this: “… keeping my flip phone and saying “no” to constant interruptions was one of my most profitable business decisions.” He then goes on to talk about all the distractions that a smartphone introduces (like he’d know, since he still uses a flip phone).

He then talks about how distracting smartphones can be: “One of the main factors in my decision was the distraction that smartphones introduce. I’ve seen people stare under the table in meetings, glued to an app rather than contributing.” Yeah. So, when you were noticing your employees checking their email rather than being attentive in your meetings? That means the meeting was boring. Stop holding boring meetings! Problem solved.

Then Sheldon provides four “benefits” to going without a smartphone. Here’s the list of benefits with my comments:

1. Increased efficiency. He thinks that freeing oneself from smartphone apps makes you more productive. Then he talks about how Facebook costs U.S. employers $28 billion in lost productivity annually. First of all, the article Sheldon points to doesn’t mention anything about the Facebook mobile app, so it’s a bad comparison for his article. Secondly, there are quite a few articles that talk about how Facebook makes employees MORE productive at work. And of course, there’s the added irony that his own company has a Facebook Page.

2. Direct Communication. Here, he’s confusing his preferred method of communication (phone calls and taking notes by hand) with something that works for everyone. Simply not true. For example, I type faster than I write, and when I want to remember something, I email it to myself and stick it in a folder for later recall.

3. More mental exercise. Sheldon thinks that doing things like calculating tips makes your brain work better, rather than relying on smartphones. Hmm … have any proof of that? Because there are plenty of articles that claim our digital devices just might be making us smarter.

4. Business diplomacy. Sheldon doesn’t really talk about “business diplomacy” here. He talks about Facebook friends not being real friends, and how it’s better to talk to people offline. Sure. Agreed. But … that doesn’t really have anything whatsoever to do with owning a smartphone. So … ??

I’m pretty sure most of you lovely readers know this – owning a smartphone is not the issue here. Here’s what I’d suggest to Sheldon: get a smartphone and really learn how to use it. Use it for 3-6 months. Have someone help you find some really useful productivity apps.

Then write another article about the experience. Hard to write about the evils of a smartphone if you’ve never owned one!

Phone photo by Thord Daniel Hedengren

SXSWi2009: Change your World in 50 Minutes: Making Breakthroughs Happen

Presenter: Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users

started off by playing a music video … I should probably know these guys … I’m hearing the sound guy say “she just wanted to play this video for walk-in music.” cool.

There’s a huge wall between you and your goal. This is for times when incremental changes don’t work.

Incremental can = an arms race – quality race or features race.

What’s stopping us from kicking ass?
– are your users stuck in P mode (like an SLR camera)?

People don’t want to upgrade …

Anyone can compete.

How to know someone:
– ipod playlist
– flight vs invisibility – which one? We had to choose one and chat about it with the person beside us

Ask: what superpower do we give our users?
– hugely important question
– ie., auto-correct spelling man – not a superpower

Productivity man – it’s a superpower, but looks about as exciting as broccholi “because it’s good for you”

14 more ways to make breakthroughs:

– superset game. ask “what is the bigger thing are these things a part of” when you want to go after something. Can be a lot more interesting and helps you make the bigger jump

– or what cooler thing is my thing a part of. ie – blogging about your company – not cool.

– Outliers thing – 10,000 hours. That’s not acceptable for Kathy, because she’s older. How do you shrink this?

– there are patterns and shortcuts – so learn the patterns. Also shorten the duration.

– Example – how does she get 10,000 hours in with horse riding? She has a work desk with a horse-shaped saddle seat. It’s better for her back, and she’s getting in more hours when she’s not really riding. Nice. (looked sorta funny though)

Kicking ass – 1000 hours of practice.

After 1-2 years, experience is a poor predictor of success – some people do that 1st year for 10 years.

To get better, work on your strengths instead of their weaknesses.

Do deliberate practice of the right things.

5. Make the right things easy and the wrong things hard.

make it easier for users to have a breakthrough than to stay where they are

treadmill gathering cobwebs? It’s not in the corner because you don’t use it … you don’t use it because it’s in the corner. Remove all your chairs in front of the TV, and replace it with that excersize machine.

6. Get better gear (and offer it).

She’s showing a pricey saddle she bought. Her ability made a huge jump – the saddle probably helped.

You sometimes have to convince others of this though… ie., you think you need more monitors and they will make you a better hacker. Your boss thinks – it will make you be a better gamer.

So find, make, and offer higher-end gear that bumps users to a new level.

7. ignore standard limitations

– think clueless. Kathy and her husband were fired from their tech jobs, so they decided to write a book – and make it print-ready. People were saying “you can’t do this” with their headstart books – and they were successful … and stupid. Because they didn’t know what they were doing.

8. total immersion jams.

16 hours over two days vs 16 hours over two months. If you stretch it out, you might not improve.

ABC – Always Be Closing. Gave some examples of groups that get together with a challenge, like writing songs – the main goal? By the end of the time-limit, you HAVE to have a song done, no matter how it is.

(me – this is like the nanowrimo thing or the videoblogger’s weeks and months I’ve participated in – practice makes perfect (or at least improved))

Less Camp, More Jam. Don’t just talk – actually go do stuff.

9. change your perspective.

don’t make a better x, make a better user of x – ie., don’t make a better software developer book. Make a better programmer instead. Nice.

10. ? Missed it …

Who are your users, who’s your tech support (Aragorn or Jabba the Hut)

Your company is to your user as blank is to Frodo

What movie are your users in? (this was an exercise). What movie do they want to be in? … and don’t forget the soundtack.

11. don’t ask your users.

If you want to make breakthroughs, don’t ask your users.

Hugh Macleod’s new book – Ignore Everybody.

Listening to users – what they way vs what they really want

asking users gets you to consensus – you’ll get incremental change – not a breakthrough

Breakthrough – ask other people’s users.

12. Be Brave.

She stopped giving talks at microsoft because there was no bravery there.

13? Death by risk aversion – you got scared, and lost your big idea.

Ease-of-use police stop in, and we end up giving our users less than the big idea.

14. Rethink deadness. Henry Ford said – his users wanted faster horses … so he didn’t ask his users.

Re-examine stuff you sent to the deadpool. ie., $40 billion horse industry (even though the horse is obsolete)

So look at those things and see if they can have a new life.

14. (yes, 14 again). Change the EQ.

Move the slider.

With the headfirst books, they didn’t push around incremental sliders Instead, they added new sliders.

She’s inviting Gary Vaynerchuk on stage again … she did the same thing last year.

She’s asking – what did Gary do?

What did Gary add to the sliders? Gary says he talks about wine from the heart – no other people do that. Gary made wine fun. Gary was confident enough to talk about what HE thought wine tasted like, and shared that.

So – figure out what new labels and sliders you want…

passiveaggressivenotes.com – silly website.

A blog about people who mis-use the word “literally”

The blog of “unessessary” quote marks

16. Be Amazed.

Played a funny clip of a Conan interview of a guy who was giving a different perspective on flying (ie., it’s amazing!). So switch that outlook!