C-Suite Agenda

What your smart phone addiction is really costing you

Where’s your phone? Are you on it right now? I bet it’s within arms reach. Your smart phone is an essential business tool which can significantly reduce the amount of time many work tasks would otherwise take. However, the proliferation of portable devices affords you nonstop exposure to a stream of information which, unchecked, allows for incessant interruptions, decreased productivity and loss of focus.

A study conducted by dscout which monitored 94 demographically diverse smart phone users 24 hours a day over a 5 day period, found that:

  • The average smart phone user clicks, swipes or touches their phone 2617 times a day over a period of 2.42 hours.
  • For the highest 10% of users these statistics are 5,427 interactions over 3.75 hours a day.
  • The average user has 76 separate phone sessions a day, while the heavy user averages 132 sessions a day.

The constant compulsion to check your device coupled with using your phone as a time killer (think social media apps, news apps and a good dose of candy crush thrown in) can severely impact your ability to use all of your time well.

So, just what is your device addiction really costing you? When it comes to productivity impacts there are four costs you need to consider.

Financial Cost

Your time is money. You can work out your personal hourly rate using the Harvard Meeting Calculator . You can use this rate to stress test any task you choose to perform to ensure the task is actually worth your time (financially). For example, if you are on a package of $400,000, your time is worth $280 an hour. At this rate, and assuming you are an average smart phone user, 2.42 hours of phone time a day is costing you $247,324 of your time a year. If you are in the highest 10% of users, then at 3.75 hours a day your financial cost is $383,250 of your time a year. Ouch.

Opportunity Cost

For every task you choose to perform there will always be a tradeoff: other tasks you could have spent your time on instead. Of the hours you currently spend on your phone, what else could you have done with some or most of that time? What revenue-generating tasks have you lost the opportunity to pursue?

Emotional Cost

Your emotional costs are just that – how do I feel about the way I just spent my time? You will either feel good, bad or neutral. For example, when you are at home and supposed to be present with your kids during ‘family time’ and yet you constantly check your phone, take calls, send emails, and simply just scroll, snapping at your kids to ‘just give me a minute’’ , how will you feel later? How will they feel right now?

Physical Cost

Some tasks make for pain: physical or mental. If you are in the habit of checking your device and mindlessly scrolling through social media prior to bed, research including a study by Harvard Researchers has established that this habit prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep, delays the circadian clock, suppresses levels of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, reduces the amount and delays the timing of REM sleep, and reduces alertness the following morning all of which can have adverse impacts on performance, health, and safety (aka Physical Costs).

Every time you pick up your device, you will always incur a Financial Cost (your time is always money) and an Opportunity Cost (there will always be something else you could have done), and there will sometimes be an Emotional and/ or a Physical Cost.

Think about your personal device habits: is the majority of your device usage adding value to your world and family bottom line or is it just a dopamine hit? Use the Four Costs as a lens to stress test whether your device addiction at any given time is the best use of your time. And if it’s not, then make a better choice.

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Kate Christie
Kate Christie is the Founder and CEO of Time Stylers, a time management specialist, the best selling author of 4 time management books and a global speaker.

Kate Christie is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with her through LinkedIn.