As a very young child I had what I so lovingly referred to as “my blanky” – a security blanket that I carried around with me everywhere I went. I’m serious, EVERYWHERE. It was a part of me.
After a few years, my blanket was so ragged from being dragged around, that Mom decided it was time for an intervention. She stole my blanky from me in the night and threw it away! The next morning, I was beside myself with withdrawals. I couldn’t function properly without blanky. Mom was so alarmed by my reaction to losing blanky that she eventually decided to sew me a new one.
You may be wondering why I’m discussing my childhood blanky addiction with you. Well, it’s because I’ve recently discovered that I have an adult version of blanky. It’s called my iPhone. Seriously – I have that thing with me so often that it may as well be an extra phalange. If I forget it, I feel slightly lost. If I think I’ve lost it, I panic. And get this – I even sleep with it. Okay, I don’t really sleep with it, but I do sleep with it right next to my bed. Luckily things aren’t so bad that I’ve named it.
If you read that last paragraph nodding your head thinking, Yep, I do that too! Then this post is for you. A few months ago, the PRSA published an article called,“Smartphone Pillow Talk” about a study conducted by iPass that surveyed more than 3,700 mobile employees from 1,000 companies. The study found that “60% of mobile workers sleep with their smartphones in the bedroom, and 44% keep them within arm’s reach.” As a result, guess what the first thing is that most people do when they wake up in the morning? They check their e-mail. Guess what else? 29% of those surveyed reported that their mobile technology usage causes friction in their personal relationships. Are these numbers frightening to anybody else?
We all know that when it comes to projects and project management, communication is key. The unfortunate thing about text messaging, instant messaging, and even e-mailing is that so many elements of communication get lost – tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, etc. If these are our main methods of communication, then maybe it’s no wonder that so many projects fail because of insufficient communication! And what’s more, Scott Eblin recently wrote an article on how “Being Busy Makes You Stupid” where he points out how easy it is for us to get sucked into the vortex of excess busyness, which often leads to missing important details, a decline in creativity, extra stress, etc. One of the things Eblin suggests we do to combat the detrimental kind of busyness is by incorporating “at least half a day a week of ‘chill time’ – no email, texts, commitments, appointments or anything else that I have to do. It gives my brain time to reset.”
So, if technology has become your new security blanket too, consider this your intervention. Try a little face-to-face communication with your project team a few times a week. Trust me, your team members will thank you. Remember, we used to be able to get things done without cell phones and technology – and while they are fantastic and useful (even necessary at times) tools, we are all still human beings – and we all need healthy “human” communication.
Sorry iPhone, tonight we’re breaking up.
(But don’t worry, we can get back together in the morning.)