I will admit to being pretty skeptical when Joe (CE’s founder) first asked everyone at the office to ‘try something’ for two weeks. Now, he’s always testing out new strategies for efficiency, so I was curious about what he had in mind. When he flashed a smile, paused, and said, “We’re all going to keep our phones in one spot for the day,” I literally laughed out loud.
He can be a real joker sometimes. But much to our surprise, he was dead serious, spontaneously pulling up a chair, placing on it a sign that read “phone chair,” and asking us to, one by one, leave our phones on the chair. There were plenty of questions, as you can imagine. When can we check it? What if it rings? I’ll miss my updates! (What am I supposed to read in the bathroom?) All legitimate concerns (except maybe that last one), but all so glaringly redundant that they weren’t even really worth asking once thought about for more than a second.
Work Less, Get More Done
But Joe answered all the questions and told everyone to calm down. He explained he had noticed lots of inefficient and distracting habits around the office and wanted to get the phones out of our hands. I would bet this is the case in many offices around the world.
He noticed tasks done on a daily basis, like checking emails or content sourcing and writing, were just taking way longer than necessary. See, he’s all about efficiency. The whole point of this little 2 week stint was to help us to get more done in less time, ultimately freeing up our time to focus on our own well-being and personal development.
I challenge you to try writing a work email or report without wondering who or what that ding, buzz, or ring on your phone or computer was all about. It makes a big difference. Phones were interrupting the ‘flow’ of our work all the time. We pay a price when we keep switching from ‘online’ to ‘offline.’
For example, let’s say you’re writing something important for work, but for every 2-3 lines you write you also spend 2-3 minutes playing on your phone. This ‘switching’ drains focus, and it takes our brains some time to get back into the task at hand. And that’s not to mention how taxing it is to always be anticipating an interruption. A study done at the University of California in Irvine found that a typical office worker is interrupted every 11 minutes, but it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task afterwards.
After Two Weeks…
Over the two week trial, I noticed that when I didn’t have my phone on the chair (which is now a table) but could see others’ phones there, I wanted to include mine in the pile – even during lunch on some days! I have been so much more productive and efficient since I started leaving my phone in its new home at the office. It was pretty eye opening to see just how often I was checking my phone, almost automatically reaching for it sometimes.
It’s funny, now I look forward to picking it up as I walk by the phone desk on my way to the kitchen to get some water or take a quick stroll around the office to stretch my legs. It’s enjoyable to see the notifications all at once instead of one after the other. My job requires me to be on my computer every day (as I’m sure many of you can relate) and I have to make calls and send messages on my phone sometimes for story purposes.
But I close the FB tab on my laptop, unless I need it, and use my phone and put it back on the table when I’m done. Focused work means more time to do other things. I’m not the only one who has noticed changes, either.
I spoke with Joe today and he mentioned in the two weeks since we implemented the phone table he saw productivity increase by 20%, and that’s without having to work harder or longer. The topic of EMF waves got brought up too. Keeping our phones away from us for the majority of the day really helps to reduce the harmful effects of these waves on our bodies.
I really like my phone and miss it… sometimes. I’ve had to make some adjustments, to be sure, like being the last one to respond to all my Whatsapp group chats or when trying to make plans for the evening, for example. But I wouldn’t trade it for the awesome laser focus I have with my work. This is actually a thing! I looked it up and came upon a movement called Gyshido: The Art of Getting Your Shit Done. It’s pretty great for anyone look to perform better in any aspect of their life. Here is their Code of Honour:
- Relentless Focus. Focus on the 10% of your activities which drive most of the value. Relentlessly.
- Single Task. We all know that multitasking is a myth. Doing multiple things at the same time we keep ourselves busy doing shitty work with lousy outcomes. Laser sharp focus.
- Boring Consistency. Do the right things over and over again. Consistency forms habits. Habits make hard things effortless.
- No Bullshit. Don’t bullshit yourself or others. Apply brutal honesty and transparency to everything you do.
- No Meetings. Meetings come in only two forms: Standing or social. If it’s social, it’s over breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner, or drinks. If not – don’t sit down.
- Follow Up. Don’t let others wait for your part of the job. Ever.
- Don’t be an Asshole.
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