Balance

How we do (and don’t) use our mobile devices for business

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. And sometimes, I think it does.

Other times it can feel like a noose around our neck, strangling us with the pressure to be constantly on-call, available, and quick to respond to every request we receive.

Am I the only one who’s noticed the trend towards people (whether it’s personal or business) expecting faster and faster response times, and that whether it be by phone call, text, email or Facebook message, they’ll be able to reach us within minutes, no matter where we are and what we’re doing?

The movement towards mobile devices has really created a unique phenomenon. How else could I be driving my kids to school or out grocery shopping and feel compelled to stop and respond because the electronic thingymajig in my pocket just chirped at me?

I’ve noticed that people have very different ways of using their mobile devices, especially when it comes to business.

For many, it’s a way to know exactly what’s happening, at any and all times — to stay up-to-date with Facebook notifications, a tweet you were mentioned in, the email that was literally just sent to you, and the text from a team member with the oh-so-urgent question they hope you’ll answer in a jiffy.

Maybe I sound bitter. (Gosh, maybe I sound really old.)

But I remember the days when it was pretty standard to check your email a couple times a day at most (it was around the time when it snowed 10 feet every winter and we walked barefoot 5 miles uphill both ways to school).

When no one expected a response from you within the hour, let alone a minute or two. When cell phones were good for phone calls and not much else.

And truthfully, I’ve rebelled against it, all these darn advances and changes in how we use mobile technology. I’ve only had a smart phone for the past 11 months (and I mostly wanted it for the camera, the GPS and the calendar).

I don’t care for social media on my phone. I don’t allow it to notify me when I receive a new email. I sometimes let texts go unanswered for hours on end, even up to a full day.

call-box-phone-box-phones-2693-smaller

Why does it all bother me so much?

I’m not sure, exactly. Perhaps it’s because, similarly to how email often equates letting others dictate the agenda for our day, the need to respond rapidly to mobile messaging makes me feel as though I’m forever at everyone’s beck and call, that my time and day are never really my own.

When it comes to business and mobile devices, it seems like there’s no boundary, no divide between personal and work time. No way to stem the tide of endless requests and to-do items.

Not to mention that it trains me to be distracted, to jump and flit from one thing to the next. To feel compelled to quickly reply to that new text even though I’m currently talking to someone else, or answer that phone call, even though I have a perfectly useful thing called voice mail.

Are you sick of me yet? Should I just put my bonnet back on, and hitch up my horses so I can plow my field before coming home to do needlework by candlelight?

I don’t think I’m the only one who struggles with how to respond to the shrill “feed me!” cry of the digital creatures we carry in our pockets.

It’s interesting, though, how one person can see it as a curse, and another as a brilliant way to stay up-to-date and keep current with their business needs even amidst the demands on a busy life.

And for the record, I’m not even saying that it’s bad to respond one way or the other, I just happen to be ranting about it from my perspective. It’s my blog and I can despise technology if I want to. (And yes, I do hear the irony in that statement.)

In fact, I know that for many, many entrepreneurs, they actually feel the changes in technology have been a blessing that allows them to keep up with their business with far greater ease, and if that’s you, more power to you. And please don’t be offended when it takes me 5 hours to respond to your text.

As I was writing this, I thought about the contrast between even Ryan and I. While he’s utterly uninterested in social media, he does have a mild love affair with his tech toys and makes frequent use of them to do business no matter where he is, while his wife, the Luddite, took approximately three years to learn to keep her phone charged on a regular basis.

In fact, you’d never read a post like this written by him. If this was his post, I’m sure it would be on the benefits of mobile technology and how we can use it to be more efficient and get things done no matter where we are. So there’s that.

How we do (and don't) use our mobile devices for business

Here’s a little glimpse into how we each use technology when it comes to running our businesses:

Stephanie:

  • Got my first smart phone in 2014.
  • Texts. Mostly personal use, not business. And like I said, I’m sloooow.
  • Voxer. I’m in one podcasting mastermind group (not frequent, just on and off) and then occasionally use to connect with a business partner and a couple blogging friends.
  • Email. Ryan set up email access when he got this phone for me, but I don’t use it much. I actually detest writing emails on my phone, so it’s really just for when I have a few minutes stuck waiting somewhere (for an appointment, in a border lineup, etc.) and I want to be productive with my time. Otherwise, I only check email on my computer when I’m actually “working”. I also use the calendar to help me remember important appointments.
  • Instagram. It’s really just for me personally, not for business.
  • Facebook. I literally just added this to my phone a couple weeks ago, and again, not for business, but only so that I can push out Instagram photos to my personal Facebook account for friends and family while we travel. I’ll probably remove it when we’re home again.
  • Nearness to mobile devices at any given time – It all depends. My phone is usually around, you know… somewhere. On my desk, up on a kitchen counter charging, in my purse halfway across the house. I’ll get to it, but it might take me a minute. At night, I sometimes use my phone for an alarm, putting it as far from my bed as possible (otherwise, I just rely on Ryan’s alarm or my all-natural alarm, otherwise known as my children).

Ryan:

  • Has always had one of the latest iPhones for the past 4-5 years, not to mention an iPad for several years as well.
  • Emails. He actually likes to check his email first thing in the morning from his iPad before going into his office to officially begin his day. It makes him feel like he’s getting a head start.
  • Calendar. He plans his day and week out in detail and gets frequent notifications.
  • iPad. He particularly loves to use his iPad as an alternative to bringing his laptop out with him. He finds that, although he can’t do everything on it, he can keep up with a lot of his work whenever he is out somewhere, and he checks it frequently.
  • Phone. While I prefer to eventually get around to answering emails, Ryan prefers phone calls, by far. He feels like he can get much more accomplished in a quick call than a string of emails back and forth. He uses both his iPhone and iPad daily for phone and Skype calls, often with his earbuds while driving or while doing something else around the house.
  • Texting and Voxing. With key team members only, for quick questions or responses.
  • Social media. Nothing. Nada. He checks his Facebook account about once per year, and has never added any social media accounts to his phone or iPad.
  • Nearness to mobile devices at any given time – Very close. Usually the phone is in his pocket or on his desk in front of him, and the iPad isn’t far off. He sleeps with all three (phone, iPad, and laptop) in the bedroom, often right beside his bed.

Which brings me to curiously ask… how do you feel about mobile technology? Has it been a blessing or a burden for you as an entrepreneur?

Photo sources: man using phone on bike, pay phones on wall, man using phone at table.

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