Try to guess how many times the average person touches their cell phones each day.
Five hundred, perhaps? A thousand? Try more than 2,600 times. And when it comes to “extreme” users – a category into which many lawyers fall - the number soars to 5,400 times daily.
That adds up to a million touches each year; two million for extreme users. Or, to look at it another way, you’re spending between two and three hours a day physically attached to your smartphone. That’s more time than you spend eating, reading or exercising.
Those eye-opening numbers are from a survey that tracked how often smartphone users touched, tapped, swiped or otherwise interacted with their devices.
What’s the level of your attachment? Find out by taking this Smartphone Compulsion Test. It was developed by a science researcher at the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction in the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
And here’s the irony: odds are you’ll use your phone to take the test.
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Here are 5 things to know about cellphone usage.
Takeaway #1: There’s a book to guide you through a smartphone separation or divorce. How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life was written by a health journalist. It might be just what you or someone in your law firm needs to put down your phone and reclaim your life. Here’s what reviewer Sara Karnasiewicz says about the book on the Explore Health website: “A slim, insight-packed volume that’s both a primer on the toll smartphone overuse can take on our mental and physical health, and a practical manual for a 30-day reset designed to put you on a path to moderation.”
Takeaway #2: Too much phone interaction hurts your productivity. “Each interaction involves activating the screen, finding the information you need, selecting options, and putting the phone away,” writes John Brandon for Inc. “This doesn’t account for the time you spend charging the phone, looking for it, making sure it is in your laptop bag, and all of the other fussing we do.” A suggestion: use chatbots, Alexa or your flesh-and-blood assistant to make appointments, book reservations and handle other daily tasks we tend to perform ourselves on our devices.
Takeaway #3: Get your thrills elsewhere. Brain researchers say one reason we’re constantly checking our phones is a craving for that burst of dopamine we get when we receive good news or see a funny meme. Try seeking it in old-fashioned ways like exercise, going into nature or having a face-to-face conversation.
Takeaway #4: Put your phone away when you’re with someone. The phenomenon of “phubbing” – habitually checking your device while talking with someone – is not just annoying, it can diminish your relationships.
Takeaway #5: Habits die hard. It’s no coincidence that tech titans like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs placed strict limits on their children’s device usage, writes Karnasiewicz. More than most people, they recognized the risk of addiction.
How about you? What are your phone habits? Are there small steps you can take to have a healthier, more balanced Law Life?
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Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Today he helps lawyers and firms succeed through marketing, work-life balance and reclaiming passion for what they do. He is available for consultations, retreats and presentations (www.yourlawlife.com). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-619-2441 to learn how Jay can help your practice.