Why turning your smartphone off is good for business

As small business owners we are super invested in our work. We love what we do, and we want to work on our business all the time.

Now with smartphones, tablets, and laptops, it’s even easier to do business and stay connected to clients, customers and suppliers.

With email, banking, accounting packages, and social media platforms at our fingertips, we can literally take care of most, if not all, our business requirements from just about anywhere, anytime of the day or night.

But new research has found that our ability to be more connected to our business through our devices is eating up our time, sapping our energy, and actually robbing us of our productivity.

Smartphones are different to tablets and laptops because their always-on, invasive nature means that we don’t fully detach from work.

Smartphones emit ‘blue light’ which studies have shown is the most disruptive of all colours of light. So as well as keeping you mentally engaged at night, the light is known to hinder melatonin, a chemical in the body that promotes sleep, so essentially, our smartphones are affecting the quality of our sleep which in turn affects our productivity. If kept unchecked this could turn into a real health issue over time.

Google has dedicated a special team of PhD researchers to gather meaningful data on work/life balance. The gDNA project recently found that 70% of 4,000 of the search engine giant’s employees couldn’t resist working on their smartphones and laptops once they had left the office. Worse, half of this group wants to switch off but can’t.

“They not only find themselves checking email all evening, but pressing refresh on GMail again and again to see if new work has come in,” said Laszlo Bock, Google senior vice-president of people operations.

In a recent study Consequences of late-night smartphone use and sleep, researchers in the US found that using smartphones before bed disturbs sleep, negatively affects work and decreases people’s capacity to self-regulate behaviour and act positively and productively.

We need downtime to relax and enjoy our lives, if we don’t we could risk triggering a downward cycle that could ultimately threaten the very business we are working so hard to build.

It’s hard enough as it is for small business owners to maintain a healthy work/life balance without work creeping in to distract us from our precious family time and other social commitments.

Answering work emails on our tablets, using social media on our smartphones, and doing bookwork in bed with the laptop, is doing harm to our personal health and wellbeing and probably not much help to the health of our business over the long term.

Remove the temptation to check the phone in bed, charge your phone overnight in your living room or kitchen – anywhere but the bedroom.

Make a time to turn off your smartphone, and all other devices, at the end of each day, then look up and tune in to life.

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