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How Not to Let Smartphones Make Us Dumber but Smarter

How Not to Let Smartphones Make Us Dumber but Smarter

The more we use smartphones, the dumber we become.

Research [1] has found that having a smartphone physically nearby actually causes us to perform worse on tasks than those who’s smartphones were in another room. In other words, the mere presence of your smartphone reduces your cognitive capacity even if you’re not conscious of the affect.

Smartphones are the largest source of attention pollution

While smartphones provide us with convenience such as the ability to connect with people within seconds, they also facilitate the development of bad habits like having too much entertainment and procrastinating. Entertainment is great for the short term, but it’s a massive drain on our time and has a massive impact on our long term growth.

Whether we want to admit it or not, smartphones are the largest source of attention pollution.  If you check them or not, push notifications are there to remind us of who’s messaged, emailed, liked our status or latest Instagram photo. We get these at all hours of the day and night as a flashing beacon to check our phone, meaning it’s difficult to complete a task without interruption and distraction compared to years ago when this wouldn’t have been a problem.

People are so addicted to smartphones because of the fear of missing out

Even without any notifications to nudge us, we never forget to check our phones, thanks to FOMO or the fear of missing out. This is when we feel that sense of anxiety that we aren’t up to date on the latest news or posts especially on social media, and it causes us to robotically check our smartphones mindlessly.

The problem with FOMO is that we fear we’re missing out on the things that actually don’t matter. Our lives won’t change if we don’t see the latest updates on Facebook.

However, this is causing us to miss the things in life that actually do matter. We waste a vast amount of time that could be spent working on our strengths and weaknesses, widening our knowledge and personal growth or improving our health.

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This is like feeding the brain junk food while letting it be starved of the essential nutrients it needs to sustain its optimum health and thrive.

How not to make your smartphone turn into a “dumbphone”

We can’t completely avoid using our smartphones. This is unrealistic. But there are ways we can avoid our smartphones turning into “dumbphones”.

It starts with identifying particular types of apps that immediately turn a smartphone into a dumbphone. These are the apps that:

  • Have no clear purpose. They don’t provide a concrete function and you can’t tell what you’ll get out if it at the end.
  • Are bottomless. There’s no definite end to these like you’d find with a book or a movie. Rather they’re designed to keep you using them for as long as possible usually in the form of a game.
  • Are addictive. When you don’t use them regularly you feel uncomfortable and FOMO comes to the surface.

Don’t delete them, just make them less accessible

While deleting these apps and going cold turkey may seem like the answer, it’s actually better to make them less accessible.

The more we suppress ourselves by deleting the apps, the more difficult it’ll be to stop thinking about using them.

Instead, a better way (if you use an iPhone in this example) is to gather these apps together into a folder and move this to the last page of your phone’s screen. The magic of this is that you’re creating a choice and when you’re brain is mindful of this choice it feels less tempted to open the apps. The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ concept is also pretty powerful here.

    Create a folder and name it as “Time wasters”
      Put the folder on the last page

      How to further make your smartphone really SMART

      So you’ve managed to reduce access to these time-wasting apps and it’s freed up your time to focus on better things. Now it’s time to use your smartphone to facilitate your growth.

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      Go from the passive to the active approach by using RSS feeds

      Using RSS reader apps can dramatically increase the quality of information you receive through your smartphone. On other platforms, if you have a particular interest and want to get the latest updates you might get inundated with 100 news stories on a subject where only 2 of them are actually applicable to you. With RSS feeds (or Really Simple Syndication feeds), on the contrary, the right information will be filtered for you based on your needs, dramatically cutting down on precious time.

      The good news is most websites have these but Feedly is a great example of an app that allows you to gather vast amounts of content in one place making it convenient for you to find. It links to many different media channels across different platforms allowing you to keep up to date.

        Learn new things through a wide variety of apps

        There are a plethora of apps that help you learn and grow in almost any subject.

        Khan Academy provides so may options for subjects to learn about, from history to science, finance to humanities.

        Wokabulary and Duolingo are two great apps for learning new languages. But whatever you want to learn whether it’s guitar, drawing or coding, there are relevant apps to help you achieve your goals.

          Duolingo (left), Guitar Lessons by Guitar Tricks (Middle), How to Draw – Free Drawing Lessons (right)

          Make use of your phone to track your lifestyle and improve it

          Our smartphones are with us everywhere we go so it’s a great way to track what we do. Once we have a better overall understanding of how we’re choosing to live we can tune and improve it.

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          Tracking what you eat can be one of the best ways to get more healthy. Most of us can’t remember what we ate for dinner last Tuesday but apps like MyFitnessPal will do this for you.

          Other areas of your life can also be covered using your smartphone’s current apps such as writing down your daily moods which can improve your well-being.

          Make good use of practical apps

          There are many amazing apps that can fire up our imaginations or simply help us to live a better life. Either way, they can be used to replace any current apps that waste your time.

          Decibel 10 turns your smartphone into an accurate noise meter. It’s fun and interesting to see how much noise you’re being exposed to.

            PackPoint is a useful one for travellers. It helps calculate what you need to take on a trip according to the length of time, where you’re going and what you’ll be doing there.

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              Waterlogged will help you drink more water by accurately allowing you to measure your containers. It also includes other drinks such as tea, coffee and soda.

                Forest can show you exactly how much time you waste on social media and procrastinating in general. With this app you grow your own tree but the catch is it’ll wither and die the more you move away from the app to check other unnecessary ones.

                  While our smartphones are getting a bad rep, it really is down to us to use them to our full advantage. Replace those apps that bring no added growth to your life and make use of the access to apps that can enhance your knowledge and well-being.

                  Reference

                  More by this author

                  Leon Ho

                  Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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                  Last Updated on September 17, 2019

                  How to Delegate Work Effectively (Step-By-Step Guide)

                  How to Delegate Work Effectively (Step-By-Step Guide)

                  All managers and leaders must master the art of delegation. Understanding how and when to allocate responsibility to others is essential in maintaining a high level of productivity, both on a personal and organizational level. Knowing how to delegate is also essential for an effective leadership.

                  To learn how to delegate is to build a cohesive and effective team who can meet deadlines. Moreover, knowing when and how to delegate work will reduce your workload, thus improving your wellbeing at work and boosting your job satisfaction. Unfortunately, many leaders are unsure how to delegate properly or are hesitant to do so.

                  In this guide, you will discover what delegation really entails, how it benefits your team, and how to delegate work effectively.

                  The Importance of Delegation

                  An effective leader knows how to delegate. When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more on a daily basis. Effective delegation also promotes productivity within a team by drawing on the existing skill set of its members and allowing them to develop new knowledge and competencies along the way. The result is a more flexible team that can share roles when the need arises.[1]

                  When you are willing to delegate, you are promoting an atmosphere of confidence and trust. Your actions send a clear signal: as a leader, you trust your subordinates to achieve desired outcomes. As a result, they will come to think of you as a likeable and efficient leader who respects their skills and needs.

                  Delegation isn’t about barking orders and hoping that your staff falls in line. A manager’s job is to get the very best from those under their supervision and in doing so, maximizing productivity and profit.[2]

                  Here’s an example of bad delegation:

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                    Careful delegation helps to identify and capitalize on the unique strengths and weaknesses of the team members. Delegation also boosts employees’ engagement as it proves that the managers are interested in drawing on their talents.[3]

                    The Fear of Delegating Tasks

                    Delegation boosts productivity, but not all managers are willing or able to delegate.[4] Why? Here’re some common reasons:[5]

                    • They may resent the idea that someone else may get the credit for a project.
                    • They may be willing to delegate in principle but are afraid their team won’t be able to handle an increased degree of responsibility.
                    • They may suspect that their staff is already overworked, and feel reluctant to increase their burden.
                    • They may suspect that it’s simpler and quicker just to do a task themselves.
                    • They dislike the idea of letting go of tasks they enjoy doing.
                    • They fear that if they delegate responsibility, their own manager will conclude that they can’t handle their workload.

                    Delegation vs Allocation

                    Most people think that delegation and allocation are synonymous, but there is an important distinction to be made between the two.[6]

                    When you allocate a task, you are merely instructing a subordinate to carry out a specific action. You tell them what to do, and they do it–it’s that simple. On the other hand, delegation involves transferring some of your own work to another person. They do not just receive a set of instructions. Rather, they are placed in a role that requires that they make decisions and are held accountable for outcomes.[7]

                    How to Delegate Work Effectively (A Step-By-Step Guide)

                    So what’s the best way to delegate work so you can fight the fear of delegation, build an efficient team and work faster? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

                    1. Know When to Delegate

                    By understanding how much control you need to maintain over a situation, you can determine the best strategy for empowering workers. There are 7 levels of delegation that offer workers different degrees of responsibility.

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                    This brief video explains these levels and offers examples of when it’s appropriate to use each one:

                    Delegation occurs along a spectrum. The lowest level of delegation happens when you tell other people what to do. It offers little opportunity for employees to try new approaches. The most empowering form of delegation occurs when you are able to give up most of your control over the project to the employee.

                    Knowing how to delegate work helps you understand how to connect people with tasks that make the best use of their talents. When done properly, it ensures that you will get the best end-result.[8]

                    When you’re deciding how to delegate work, ask the following questions:

                    • Do you have to be in charge of this task, or can someone else pull it off?
                    • Does this require your attention to be successful?
                    • Will this work help an employee develop their skills?
                    • Do you have time to teach someone how to do this job?
                    • Do you expect tasks of this nature to recur in the future?

                    2. Identify the Best Person for the Job

                    You have to pass the torch to the right team member for delegation to work. Your goal is to create a situation in which you, your company, and the employee have a positive experience.

                    Think about team members’ skills, willingness to learn, and their working styles and interests. They’ll be able to carry out the work more effectively if they’re capable, coachable, and interested. When possible, give an employee a chance to play to their strengths.

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                    Inexperienced workers may need more guidance than seasoned veterans. If you don’t have the time to set the newer employee up for success, it’s not fair to delegate to them.

                    You also have to consider how busy your employees are. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm someone by giving them too many responsibilities.

                    3. Tell and Sell to Get the Member Buy-In

                    After you’ve found the perfect person for the job, you still have to get them to take on the new responsibility. Let them know why you chose them for the job. [9] When you show others that you support their growth, it builds a culture of trust. Employees who see delegated tasks as opportunities are more likely to be invested in the outcome.

                    When you’re working with newer employees, express your willingness to provide ongoing support and feedback. For seasoned employees, take their thoughts and experiences into account.

                    4. Be Clear and Specific About the Work

                    It’s critical to explain to employees why the project is necessary, what you expect of them, and when it’s due.[10] If they know what you expect, they’ll be more likely to deliver.

                    By setting clear expectations, you help them plan how to carry out the task. Set up project milestones so that you can check progress without micromanaging. If your employee has trouble meeting a milestone, they still have time to course correct before the final product is due.

                    This type of accountability is commonly used in universities. If students only know the due date and basic requirements for completing major research papers, they might put off the work until the eleventh hour. Many programs require students to meet with advisers weekly to get guidance, address structure, and work out kinks in their methods in advance of deadlines. These measures set students up to succeed while giving them the space to produce great work.

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                    5. Support Your Employees

                    To see the best possible outcomes of delegating, your subordinates need resources and support from you. Connect them with training and materials to develop skillsets they don’t already have.[11] It may take more time up front to make resources available, but you’ll save time by having the work done correctly. For recurring tasks, this training pays off repeatedly.

                    Sometimes employees need a help to see what they’re doing well and how they can improve. Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of delegation. This is also a good way to monitor the delegated tasks as a leader. While you can keep track of the progress of the tasks, you are not micro-managing the employees.

                    Throughout the project, periodically ask your employees if they need support or clarification. Make it clear that you trust them to do the work, and you want to create a space for them to ask questions and offer feedback. This feedback will help you refine the way you delegate work.

                    6. Show Your Appreciation

                    During periodic check-ins, recognize any wins that you’ve seen on the project so far. Acknowledge that your employees are making progress toward the objective. The Progress Principle lays out how important it is to celebrate small wins to keep employees motivated.[12] Workers will be more effective and dedicated if they know that you notice their efforts.

                    Recognizing employees when they do well helps them understand the quality of work you expect. It makes them more likely to want to work with you again on future projects.

                    Bottom Line

                    Now that you know exactly what delegation means and the techniques to delegate work efficiently, you are in a great position to streamline your tasks and drive productivity in your team.

                    To delegate is to grant autonomy and authority to someone else, thus lightening your own workload and building a well-rounded, well-utilized team.

                    Delegation might seem complicated or scary, but it gets much easier with time. Start small by delegating a couple of decisions to members of your team over the next week or two.

                    More About Delegation

                    Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

                    Reference

                    [1] BOS Staffing: 5 Benefits Of Delegation – Empower Your Team
                    [2] Brian Tracy International: How to Delegate The Right Tasks To The Right People: Effective Management Skills For Leadership Success
                    [3] MindTools: Successful Delegation: Using The Power Of Other People’s Help
                    [4] Fast Company: The Three Most Common Fears About Delegation: Debunked
                    [5] Leadership Skills Training: Delegation
                    [6] Abhinav Jain: Delegation of work vs Allocation of work
                    [7] Anthony Donovan: Management Training: Delegating Effectively
                    [8] Management 3.0: Practice: Delegation Board
                    [9] Focus: The Creativity and Productivity Blog: A Guide to Delegating Tasks Effectively
                    [10] Inc.: 6 Ways to Delegate More Effectively
                    [11] The Muse: The 10 Rules of Successful Delegation
                    [12] Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer: The Progress Principle

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