Cellphones Are Effectively Sapping Technicians' Productivity

25-May-2019

As the parent of adult children, I try hard not to give too much unsolicited advice. Mainly because I remember how annoyed I used to be when my own parents dared to counsel me when I was a (stupid) 20-something. Nevertheless, I broke my pledge when my kids got their first jobs after college. My piece of advice? Put away your cellphones, and don’t look at them except during lunchtime.

That’s because like everyone else in their generation (and most of society at large), my kids are addicted to their cellphones —although they would disagree. They say that they use their phones to check facts and do research as part of their jobs, and that may be true. But I would venture to bet that checking social media is also part of their routines. There’s even a cute acronym for this constant need to check emails, texts, and social media: FOMO, or fear of missing out. And it’s a big problem because it may be chipping away at how well we do our jobs, as well as our productivity.

As Cal Newport, a Georgetown University computer scientist and author of the book “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World,” noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “To have an excellent career, you need periods of uninterrupted concentration to produce work of unambiguous value. Many jobs lack a clear measure of value, so employees treat busyness as a proxy for productivity and let email distract them from real work.”

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