A recent LinkedIn survey revealed that nearly one-fifth of hiring managers say they have eliminated a candidate from consideration because of inappropriate photos online.
While resumes have long been an essential ingredient in the job application process, today people are increasingly turning to online options such as LinkedIn. And, of course, making a good first impression is just as important online as it is when using a resume.
According to recent LinkedIn research, 65 percent of professionals say that the impression you make online is just as important as the one you make in person. Not only that, but 76 percent believe it's difficult to overcome a bad first impression.
According to LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele, your LinkedIn profile can and should be optimized to make the best impression you can on prospective employers. Blair offers the following specific tips for doing just that.
Showcase what you're "in it" for.
Your profile is an online reflection of who you are and what you're "in it" for, so you'll want to do some introspection before writing your summary. This is one of the top things a recruiter looks at when viewing your LinkedIn profile. Think of your summary as your elevator pitch--how would you spark a potential employer's or contact's interest in 40 words? Include your experience, skills and interests, as well as your passions, motivations, goals and what makes you unique as a professional. Make sure your online persona represents your most authentic self. Don't be afraid to let your personality shine through.
Use a photo that represents your professional identity.
First impressions matter, and a strong LinkedIn photo makes all the difference. In fact, in a recent LinkedIn survey, nearly one-fifth of hiring managers say they have eliminated a candidate from consideration because of inappropriate photos online. And, profiles with photos receive up to 21x more profile views, 9x more connection requests and up to 36x more messages. Ensure your photo is clear and professional by using a simple background, cropping it so your face fills up at least 60 percent of the frame, and using filters to enhance brightness, contrast or saturation.
Reference your education or current position.
Including your education, industry and current position help recruiters and alumni easily find you. Adding your education leads to up to 17x more messages from recruiters, so be sure to fill in your degree type, fields of study (if applicable), and the years you attended school. Additionally, be sure to add certifications and past job descriptions to give your audience more insight into your skills and experience--members with current positions are discovered up to 16x more in recruiter searches and profile views shoot up 29x.
Showcase your skills.
Almost 90 percent of professionals feel that skills are even more important than job titles, use your profile to showcase what you've learned in your career. Including five or more skills can help you get up to 17x more profile views and 31x more messages from recruiters and others who can help you get ahead. If you don't have any formal work experience, feature skills you learned through your studies or volunteer experience. Soft skills are just as, if not more important, than hard skills when applying for jobs, and many employers now tout skills over certificates. Take a look at desirable job descriptions for your field--if you have the skills for these positions, add them to your profile--and keep buzzwords like specialized, passionate and expert out of your summary.
Share your location.
Members with a location listed receive up to 19x more profile views, and 28x more likely to receive a message to start a conversation. Including the city where you are based makes you up to 23x more likely to be found by other members in your geographic area. More than 30% of recruiters rely on location information to find candidates, so the more details you have, the more likely you will be found and connected to your next opportunity.
Oh. And one more thing.
If you decide to upgrade your resume too (not a bad idea), LinkedIn has developed a pretty nifty tool called Resume Assistant which the company says, "offers inspiration and resources to craft a compelling resume directly within Microsoft Word." According to LinkedIn, when you select your desired role and industry, Resume Assistant pulls LinkedIn insights from millions (yes--millions) of member profiles. This provides you with the opportunity to see how people in that role described the work they do.
Regardless of how you decide to do it, making your LinkedIn profile stand out from the pack will be well worth your time. It might even land you your next job.
No matter what you do, your phone's battery capacity — which translates to its lifespan — will degrade as you use it.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you might be reducing your phone battery's lifespan with certain charging behaviors.
Specifically, if you often charge your phone overnight or keep it plugged in for hours after it's reached 100%, you're accelerating the aging process of lithium-ion smartphone batteries.
"If you're going to charge your phone to 100% and keep it at 100% — just keep on charging and charging overnight — this will have negative influence on aging," Dominik Schulte, the managing director of the German battery-technology consultancy firm BatterieIngenieure, told Business Insider.
Indeed, as a lithium-ion battery ages, the chemistry within changes and becomes less efficient at storing and delivering power to your device.
To be sure, all lithium-ion batteries age and have a limited lifespan. No matter what you do, your phone's battery capacity — which translates to its lifespan — will degrade as you use it. But you can have a say in how quickly your smartphone battery ages.
Meanwhile, the companies behind the smartphones in your hands and pockets don't seem overly concerned about you letting your phone charge for too long.
I've asked smartphone companies what they think about charging phones overnight and keeping them at 100% for hours on end. Most referred me to informational webpages on their respective smartphone batteries.
In short, the company that made your smartphone doesn't seem to think that charging your phone overnight is cause for much concern.
Apple does mention overnight charging on one of its informational pages but doesn't say it's not a good idea to do so.
Google said that worrying about overcharging your phone is an "outdated" concern.
Ronald Ho, a product manager at Google, told Business Insider that "in general, this mentality that 'overcharging is bad' or 'charging too often is bad' is pretty outdated given the current battery and charging optimizing technologies companies can build into their devices."
Ho said that "when the phone's battery reaches 100%, the phone's internal battery charger will actually stop charging to prevent overcharging." Phone batteries will get a top-up from a charger only when they reach a certain level under 100%
But Schulte and most smartphone makers agree on one thing:
When you store a smartphone you don't plan to use, you should keep the battery charge within a certain range — and that's a hint that smartphone batteries don't like being at 100%.
Schulte said that lithium-ion batteries age slowest at about 30% to 50%. And that's about the range where most smartphone makers suggest you keep your phone's battery charge when you plan on storing it away for a while.
On its battery webpage, Samsung says you should keep its battery charge at "at least 50%." Apple says to keep the iPhone "half-charged when it's stored for the long term" to "help extend battery lifespan."
At the end of the day, lithium-ion batteries don't like being at 100%, at least for long periods.
But no one is suggesting that you only ever keep your smartphone between 30% and 50%.
That's simply unrealistic for a device that most of us keep by our side all day, especially when we often need it to last a long time between charges.
The key is to not store or keep your phone's battery at a 100% charge for extended periods.
Instead, Schulte said that "it would be very good to charge the phone in the morning or whenever, but don't store the phone overnight at 100%."
It could all come down to how often you buy new smartphones.
It's hard to say how quickly overnight charging actually accelerates the aging process of the lithium-ion batteries in our smartphones. It may not produce any noticeable effects if you buy a new phone every year, or maybe even every two years.
But if you typically buy a new phone because yours is dying too quickly — and isn't that old — you might want to reevaluate how you've been charging your phones. An overnight charge might not be considered such a long time, but the damage could build up the longer you keep your smartphone. If you're an overnight charger and plan to keep your phone for several years, it might be time to ditch that behavior.
But remember, all lithium-ion batteries die. You can be the most cautious phone charger in the world and your phone's battery life will still degrade, albeit slower.
There are a couple of other things that almost everyone agrees on about smartphone batteries.
For one, avoid fully discharging your smartphone before you charge it again. And avoid extreme temperatures whenever possible.
But in the end, smartphone batteries are meant to be used, so don't worry too much about it.
All in all, don't stress. If you can charge your phone in the morning instead of overnight, great. It can be worthwhile to see whether changing your charging habit can have a positive effect on your phone battery's lifespan.
But if not, you'll be fine.
Perhaps the best thing to know is that many phone makers give you the option to replace your battery for a fraction of the price of buying a new model.
By Mark Zuckerberg - founder and chief executive of Facebook
Technology is a major part of our lives, and companies such as Facebook have immense responsibilities. Every day, we make decisions about what speech is harmful, what constitutes political advertising, and how to prevent sophisticated cyberattacks. These are important for keeping our community safe. But if we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t ask companies to make these judgments alone.
I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.
From what I’ve learned, I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.
First, harmful content.
Facebook gives everyone a way to use their voice, and that creates real benefits — from sharing experiences to growing movements. As part of this, we have a responsibility to keep people safe on our services. That means deciding what counts as terrorist propaganda, hate speech and more. We continually review our policies with experts, but at our scale we’ll always make mistakes and decisions that people disagree with.
Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree. I’ve come to believe that we shouldn’t make so many important decisions about speech on our own. So we’re creating an independent body so people can appeal our decisions. We’re also working with governments, including French officials, on ensuring the effectiveness of content review systems.
Internet companies should be accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content. It’s impossible to remove all harmful content from the Internet, but when people use dozens of different sharing services — all with their own policies and processes — we need a more standardized approach.
One idea is for third-party bodies to set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and to measure companies against those standards. Regulation could set baselines for what’s prohibited and require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum.
Facebook already publishes transparency reports on how effectively we’re removing harmful content. I believe every major Internet service should do this quarterly, because it’s just as important as financial reporting. Once we understand the prevalence of harmful content, we can see which companies are improving and where we should set the baselines.
Second, legislation is important for protecting elections.
Facebook has already made significant changes around political ads: Advertisers in many countries must verify their identities before purchasing political ads. We built a searchable archive that shows who pays for ads, what other ads they ran and what audiences saw the ads. However, deciding whether an ad is political isn’t always straightforward. Our systems would be more effective if regulation created common standards for verifying political actors.
Online political advertising laws primarily focus on candidates and elections, rather than divisive political issues where we’ve seen more attempted interference. Some laws only apply during elections, although information campaigns are nonstop. And there are also important questions about how political campaigns use data and targeting. We believe legislation should be updated to reflect the reality of the threats and set standards for the whole industry.
Third, effective privacy and data protection needs a globally harmonized framework.
People around the world have called for comprehensive privacy regulation in line with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and I agree. I believe it would be good for the Internet if more countries adopted regulation such as GDPR as a common framework.
New privacy regulation in the United States and around the world should build on the protections GDPR provides. It should protect your right to choose how your information is used — while enabling companies to use information for safety purposes and to provide services. It shouldn’t require data to be stored locally, which would make it more vulnerable to unwarranted access. And it should establish a way to hold companies such as Facebook accountable by imposing sanctions when we make mistakes.
Finally, regulation should guarantee the principle of data portability.
If you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another. This gives people choice and enables developers to innovate and compete.
This is important for the Internet — and for creating services people want. It’s why we built our development platform. True data portability should look more like the way people use our platform to sign into an app than the existing ways you can download an archive of your information. But this requires clear rules about who’s responsible for protecting information when it moves between services.
This also needs common standards, which is why we support a standard data transfer format and the open source Data Transfer Project.
I believe Facebook has a responsibility to help address these issues, and I’m looking forward to discussing them with lawmakers around the world. We’ve built advanced systems for finding harmful content, stopping election interference and making ads more transparent. But people shouldn’t have to rely on individual companies addressing these issues by themselves. We should have a broader debate about what we want as a society and how regulation can help. These four areas are important, but, of course, there’s more to discuss.
The rules governing the Internet allowed a generation of entrepreneurs to build services that changed the world and created a lot of value in people’s lives. It’s time to update these rules to define clear responsibilities for people, companies and governments going forward.
Is the collective horror of the world’s tragedies diminishing the weight of each individual crisis?
In 1999, two teenagers killed 13 people and injured 24 others in what was the third most closely followed piece of news in the entire decade. At the time, it was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history and it utterly captured the nation’s attention. Flash forward to 2018 where there were three attacks unsettlingly similar to Columbine:
With every new tragedy, the media cycle repeats itself, but each time it seemingly gets shorter. First, a video will appear — a bystander or victim will almost certainly reach for their phone and start filming after hearing gunshots, and sometimes the shooter even livestreams the event as with the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. Then, the sensational imagery of terror will spread like a wildfire through social media, amplifying the fear that the perpetrator hopes to sow.
Struck by fear, but no longer surprised by such an event, a torrent of people will go through the motions by posting messages of thoughts, prayers, solidarity, and other platitudes to no one in particular on social media. Condemnations of violence and vilifications of whatever group(s) the shooter belongs to will follow, although there will be notably fewer of them if the terrorist is white; a fact that will also be pointed out on social media but will quickly devolve into troll fests and flame wars much to our detriment.
A week will pass. We will forget. Nothing will change.
A discussion about modern masculinity, its historic roots, and its relationship with violence will not be had. A conversation about thoughtfully regulating access to firearms and how to strike a balance between reducing harm and protecting rights will also not be had. “This is why we need to BAN ALL GUNS,” will be met with, “Naw, what we really need is more good guys with guns!” And another opportunity is flushed down the drain.
The next day, writers and pundits will remind us not to share the video we’ve already all seen because Twitter or Facebook autoplayed it in our feeds. The Onion will change a few names and republish a satirical article, originally written in 2014, titled, “‘No Way To Prevent This’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”
A week will pass. We will forget. Nothing will change. We already know how all of this shakes out and have developed a bad national case of learned helplessness as a result. In 2014, the writers at The Onion had already identified our pitiful and feeble reaction to what used to be shocking violence. In the years since that diagnosis, we have proven that The Onion writers were right all along: there is no way to prevent these tragedies. Not because of some universal truth, but because of our own political stubbornness and stagnation. And honestly, how could we hope to make meaningful change when we can’t even have a meaningful conversation?
Our debate surrounding mass gun violence is filled with false dichotomies between wannabe panaceas and hollow inaction — our only two choices. Our national conversation is as trite and meaningless as the reductive memes we deploy to make our arguments. Get on the digital soapbox — but be sure to make your case in 280, or fewer, characters. Let them know how you really feel — but only if it’s funny, 20 words or fewer, and fits within one of 100 or so predefined meme templates.
“I’m not shocked…”
Waleed Aly, an Australian news anchor for The Project, said of the shooting in Christchurch, “The most dishonest thing I could say is that I’m shocked… if we’re honest, we’ll know this has been coming.” And indeed, in a few short weeks, or maybe if we’re lucky a couple months, the tragedy at Christchurch will be replaced in the public consciousness by yet another mass shooting, bombing, or another vile act of humankind.
The truth is that we are constantly bombarded with the sensationalist coverage of horrific violence that has become the status quo. We have no right to be shocked because we have repeatedly chosen to do nothing in the wake of tragedy after tragedy.
Aly is right that extremist violence, such as the targeting of Muslims at a mosque, is on the rise. The Southern Poverty Law Center — a group dedicated to tracking hate groups and the violence they enact — reports that in the U.S. membership in hate groups has been rising steadily since 2014 and the number of hate groups has recently reached a record high.
The relentless pace of horrific news has an overwhelming effect. The violence never seems to stop, and so we feel powerless to stop it.
On the other hand, New Zealand had not been host to a mass shooting in the 20 years prior to the shooting Christchurch. Maybe this event did shock the Kiwi community, and maybe that shock is why political action was on the table. In the wake of the shooting, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern said unequivocally: “Our gun laws will change.” Ardern even suggested a ban on some or all semiautomatic weapons as part of those changes. Five days later, more details about the proposal were announced, including a ban on some semiautomatic military-style rifles. And then, it actually happened. In under a week, New Zealand banned a subset of semiautomatic rifles, high capacity magazines, and some accessories designed to make weapons more deadly like the bump stock.
The current ban is temporary, but legislation to make it permanent will be introduced in the first week of April, and has broad support from both the current coalition government as well as the main opposition party. It’s anecdotal, but in an interview with NPR some Kiwi gun enthusiasts seemed quite comfortable with updating gun laws saying, “Owning a gun in New Zealand is a privilege not a right” and “Well, to be honest, I think the more military-style semiautomatics should be banned. There’s no need for them — probably the same with pistols, to be honest.”
But there’s another twist to all this, understandably overlooked in the anxiety and fear that hovers like a cloud after each massacre. Mass shootings, school shootings, violent crime in general, and homicide specifically, have all been falling in the U.S. — especially over the long term. While the number of mass shootings is declining, the total death toll from them is rising — shootings are becoming more deadly, not more common. Gun violence is rising as well, but that is because a greater share of crime is committed using a gun, not because of an increasing crime rate. Both of these facts suggest that the available tools for enacting violence are highly effective; too effective given their prevalence, or too prevalent given their effectiveness.
Modern media has put every new tragedy on blast since before the invention of the 24-hour news cycle — but the hyperconnectivity of the internet age takes global amplification to a new level. Thirty years ago, a large majority of Americans would likely not have even heard of an event equivalent to the massacre at Christchurch, just as a generation ago most New Zealanders would not have heard about the Squirrel Hill shooting. News just didn’t get distributed as widely.
Instant global distribution combined with our news media’s penchant for sensational stories has made the world much more aware of international tragedy. Similarly, platforms like YouTube and Twitter have made every individual citizen a kind of journalist, but without any training, a code of ethics, or an editorial team. Our newfound global awareness, combined with population growth, means we are individually exposed to many more horrible events — even as homicide and poverty continue to decline on a global per-person basis.
The relentless pace of horrific news has an overwhelming effect. The violence never seems to stop, and so we feel powerless to stop it. The sheer volume desensitizes us and makes us feel numb even in the face of brutal, senseless, massacres.
Research shows that civic engagement is strongly tied to local news consumption. The people who show up and make change tend to be the ones who are focused on their sphere of influence and what they can do in their own communities. But, local news doesn’t go viral. Local news is definitionally interesting to a small, geographically confined audience. By getting our news primarily from global channels, we have missed our own tree for the forest. When we focus our attention solely on what happens nationally, or globally, we cede our ability to create change on the topics we follow most closely.
Obviously, international and national news are important. I don’t believe we should isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. But admitting that most of us, individually, have little power at a global scale is actually empowering. Doing so gives us permission to focus on how we can improve the lives of the people around us, in our own communities, in our own sphere of influence. And maybe if we turn down the volume on the relentless, sensational coverage of global violence, we’ll be able to see the growth and improvement in our own backyard more clearly.
By: Larry Kim
These six tips will help keep your email account and personal data safe and secure.
Hackers are always coming up with new sophisticated phishing schemes to steal any personal information they can.
Hackers want to gain access to your email because so much of valuable personal information can be found there.
Case in point: Earlier this month, there was a pretty serious phishing attack that targeted Gmail users. As NBC News reported:
Although I wasn’t impacted by this phishing scam, millions of people were. I knew some of them.
Luckily, most of my friends were savvy enough to recognize the scam for what it was and reported and deleted the emails. Most, but not all, unfortunately.
Don’t become the next victim of hackers. Keep your personal data safe and secure.
Here’s how to recognize phishing and how to avoid it.
How Phishing Works
At the most basic level, here’s how a phishing scam works:
How to Avoid It
What can you do if you suspect phishing?
Here are some simple tips courtesy of Citrix ShareFile, which helps businesses securely and easily share files:
By Larry Kim
Chatbots can schedule meetings, tell you the weather, and provide customer support. And that’s just the beginning.
Want to order pizza, schedule a meeting, or even find your true love?
There’s a chatbot for that.
Just as apps once were the hot new thing that would solve whatever problem you had back in 2009, now we’re moving into the age of chatbots.
Chatbots make life even easier for consumers. With chatbots, there’s no more long waits on hold to talk to a person on the phone or going through multiple steps to research and complete a purchase on websites.
Millions of people already get it. They’re using chatbots to contact retailers, get recommendations, complete purchases, and much more.
Adoption of chatbots is increasing. People are discovering the benefits of chatbots.
All of this is good news for entrepreneurs and businesses because pretty much any website or app can be turned into a bot.
Now is the perfect time to hop on the bandwagon. Even I’ve jumped on the bandwagon with my new startup.
What’s so great about chatbots?
Check out these 11 interesting examples of ways you can use chatbots right now.
1. Order Pizza
2. Product Suggestions
3. Customer Support
5. Personal Finance Assistance
6. Schedule a Meeting
7. Search for & Track Flights
9. Find Love
10. Send Money
11. Find a Restaurant
These are just 11 examples of how businesses are already using chatbots. There are nearly limitless possibilities for what can be done with chatbots. So don’t miss out on this huge opportunity to help, engage, or sell to your customers.
Cell phones have come a long way. Back in the day, they were the size of bricks—remember the Zack Morris phone?!—and their only purpose was to make calls (and, let’s be real, even that cost an arm and a leg).
Fast forward to today, and we’re all walking around with supercomputers in our pockets. Everything we could ever want and need is just a few taps or swipes away. Which can be a blessing—or, if you’re me, a curse.
For years, I’ve been a slave to my phone: checking my email every 30 seconds, scrolling through social media at every break, falling into random Wikipedia holes when I should be getting to sleep. The way I used my phone wasn’t just unproductive—it was actually keeping me from living the kind of life I wanted to live.
So when the clock struck midnight on January 1st, I committed to trying the distraction-free phone so I could kick my phone addiction and lead a more present, connected life.
It’s been about seven weeks—and, at the risk of sounding cliché, it’s kind of changed my life. How, you might ask? Let’s take a look at what it was like to go distraction-free and the impact it’s had on my business, productivity, and overall well-being.
What Is a Distraction-Free Phone?
A few months ago, I stumbled upon Jake Knapp’s Medium article that outlined his addiction to mobile technology—and, more importantly, how he adjusted his cell to be more present for himself, his kids, and his career. He’s been rocking his distraction-free phone for six years and found new levels of personal and professional success as a result.
I related to Knapp on so many levels and was super inspired by his story. So I decided that my New Year’s resolution would be to follow in his footsteps.
Here’s how I adjusted my iPhone to go from “attention-sucking” to “distraction-free”:
(Got an Android phone? No problem, you can go distraction-free, too! Check out this how-to guide to get started.)
Now, I could’ve tossed every app on my phone, but for this experiment, I only deleted things that were distracting—and kept useful apps that didn’t suck up a ton of my time (for example, Google Maps and Spotify).
Once I deleted all the notorious attention grabbers from my phone, I figured the transition would be easy; if my phone didn’t have anything on it to distract me, how could it be distracting?
Yeah… I was wrong.
I’ve spent years behaving as though my phone were surgically attached to my hand; it didn’t matter that there was nothing on my phone to check—checking my phone was like a muscle reflex.
The first few days, I compulsively picked up my phone just as often as I had when it was chock full of distractions. But there wasn’t really anything to hold my attention (other than pictures of my dog—which I definitely spent more than a few minutes scrolling through).
It took about a week for it to sink in that checking my phone wasn’t going to give me the “reward” of distraction that I was used to. And once it sunk in? Everything started to change.
The Adjustment Period
After that first week of obsessive phone checking, I could feel my phone addiction starting to lose its grip. I first noticed a shift one day when I was watching an episode of The Great British Baking Show.
Normally, when I watch television—even if it’s a series I love as much as this one—I’m really only half (or a quarter) watching; the bulk of my attention is directed toward email and social media feeds on my screen. This kind of multitasking means I don’t ever really absorb what I’m seeing—and end up rewatching the same episodes over and over before anything (the recipes, the challenges, the winner) commits to memory.
But this time, I made it the entire hour (that’s the signature challenge, the technical, and the showstopper) and didn’t even think to look at my phone. Not only did I enjoy the experience more, but I was also able to follow what I was watching (and learned some great tips for making meringue as a result).
Now, it seems like a small thing. But for me, being fully present for an entire hour of television felt like a pretty big deal. I got a taste of what life could be like if I wasn’t attached to my phone all the time—and, as Mary Berry would say, it was scrummy.
After that, I started leaving my phone behind, first for a few minutes at a time (like when I walked my dog) and then for larger, more significant chunks (like when I was pushing through a deadline). By the end of January, I became so comfortable not having my phone with me, I’d keep it at home when my husband and I went out for dinner, to run errands, or to take our pup to the dog park—and I ended up enjoying all those things even more than usual.
It’s been a little over a month since I started this experiment, and the payoff has been pretty amazing. I feel more present, I get more done, and I feel like I’m being more purposeful with my time. I know those are pretty broad terms (and sound like something you’d read in a self-help book)—so let’s dig deeper into how, exactly, my life has changed.
How the Distraction-Free Phone Impacted My Business and Productivity
How the Distraction-Free Phone Impacted My Life and Well-Being
So, clearly, I’m on Team Distraction-Free Phone. But that doesn’t mean this experience hasn’t had its drawbacks.
The biggest challenge? While I definitely feel more present in my day-to-day life, I don’t feel as connected to the people, places, and things I don’t interact with on a daily basis. I don’t feel as on top of news and current events (if I want to know what’s going on in the world, I can’t just look down at my phone—I need to actively seek that out on my laptop or the TV), and because I don’t have my phone next to me as often, I can miss text conversations as they happen in real time. I’ve given my friends, family, and colleagues a heads-up about my phone situation, but I still feel bad when I get back to my phone and have a bunch of missed texts.
But at the end of the day, none of them even compare to the massive benefits (seriously—no one’s going to lose sleep if it takes me an hour to respond to a text).
Tips for Going Distraction-Free
Want to get your phone use under control? Here are my top suggestions based on my experience these past couple months:
I’ve been going strong with the distraction-free phone for almost two months, and honestly, I can’t see myself ever going back. The benefits —like feeling more in control of my business, my time, and my life—are beyond worth the minor inconveniences.
And if I ever get the urge to fall down a Wikipedia hole? There’s always my laptop.
People would rather be on their phones than engage with other people
I'm sitting in a coffee shop right now that overlooks a busy four-way stop at an intersection. I keep seeing people drive by, and as they roll to a stop, they look down at their phones, only to let off the brake and continue on their merry way, sometimes with their phone still in hand.
All I can think is, “Why, for crying out loud, is it so necessary to check your phone for two seconds?!” But then I remember that this is not the only situation where this behavior occurs, and smartphone addiction isn’t exactly a recent development. I recently wrote about deactivating my Facebook account because of how it interfered with my daily life, but I think the issue goes even further than that.
I see this problem every day with my students in the classroom. If you haven’t been around a school lately, I’ll paint you a picture: droves of teenagers walking down a hallway, most with their earbuds in while looking down at their phones. I take delight in stepping in front of them just so they can awkwardly bump into me because they aren’t paying the least bit of attention. “You shouldn’t text and walk,” I tell them half-laughing, half-serious, but they can’t hear me. Even worse, I see some students in the classroom who have a compulsive connection to their phones. I’ve had to take phones away simply because some students genuinely can’t seem to put them down.
Adults are no better. I look around during after-school meetings and at least half of my colleagues are on their phones, completely ignoring the presenter. I too have been guilty of this. I used to jump from app to app to check the latest updates and scroll mindlessly through my feeds, looking for something more “entertaining” than the real world. But was anything I was doing necessary? Definitely not.
And of course we’re all too familiar by now with the modern hangout or dinnertime scene: a bunch of friends or family members in the same room all looking at their phones. Even more sad than these scenarios, however, is what I saw on TV two weeks ago. It was a news story by the local media in which the reporter interviewed a group of children about how they feel when their parents spend a lot of time on their phones. The parents watched the conversation from another room and reacted in shock when most of the kids confessed that they often felt ignored or, even worse, that the child was afraid to interrupt the parent and make them angry. Needless to say, there is a major problem in our society that all of us need to address.
It’s been more than a decade since smartphones and tablets first appeared. Since then, humans have been completely glued to their devices. On the one hand, the technology does make daily life easier and more convenient, but on the other hand, people have become too accustomed to using tech merely as outlets to escape the real world and the people around us. Check out the pictures in this article by the Huffington Post and you’ll see the problem very clearly: People would rather be on their phones than engage with other people.
I wanted to do some digging to find out just how addicted we are. I found a study that showed smartphone users spend an average of 140 minutes on their phones each day, unlocking them more than 70 times and touching them more than 2,600 times total! I was shocked at first; I know I fall into the average user category, and it’s appalling to think how much wasted time that adds up to in an entire year of smartphone addiction.
As Sherry Turkle, an MIT psychologist and author of the book Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, writes, “The way I like to put it is technology can make us forget what we know about life. One of the things it’s made us forget is that we need to tend to our relationships and other people and our own feelings.”
Turkle’s advice is spot-on. We need to take time away from our devices to actively engage with the people around us and cultivate better relationships, as humans were genetically programmed to do. Equally important, we need to tend to our own feelings, because so many of us don’t even realize the anxiety and stress that being addicted to our smartphone is creating in our lives.
I know this, because I was that person.
I used to care so much about my social media presence. I wanted to post the perfect pictures with the perfect filters and the perfect caption. Then I had to check — constantly — and monitor the response from my followers, thereby validating my social media worth. I used to keep up with group text message conversations and try to plan the next hangout while I was in the middle of work. I used to scroll through Twitter or Instagram at lunch instead of connecting with the people around me. And when I had exhausted all of the above options, I would scroll through my stock holdings just to see the latest minor fluctuation in prices.
I had a serious problem and didn’t even know it. Even when people around me joked about how much I used my phone, I brushed it off as just a sign of the times. It’s okay, I thought, because I can multitask, so it’s really not a big deal. Little did I understand, though, how these habits were eroding my own sense of security while also elevating my levels of stress and anxiety. I started to dwell on responses to my posts, or how many “favorites” my tweets got, or how often somebody texted me, or how much my stocks gained or lost. My relationship with my phone became completely compulsive and negative.
The turning point for me came when I first started having signs of rheumatoid arthritis. I mistook the pain in my hands and wrists as possible carpal tunnel, because the pain made me aware of how many times I touched my phone. My body physically forced me to take a break from all the texting and apps, because I didn’t want to exacerbate the symptoms I was experiencing. With some ice and rest, I figured it would all go away.
When that didn’t happen and I learned it was a more serious problem, it was an even bigger revelation for me: Life doesn’t last forever. There will come a point when I can’t use my hands or feet or body as well as I can now. I’m wasting my best years staring at a phone screen instead of living my life. Since that moment, I have become mindful of this modern-day addiction and am working to revert my life back to normal.
To help with this goal, I just finished reading the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris, who opened my eyes to the importance of being mindful and present. Harris is a famous journalist at ABC who had a similar epiphany when he had a panic attack live on national television. He learned that this was caused by a buildup of stress and anxiety relating to his modern lifestyle, such as compulsively checking his BlackBerry to keep in touch with his work 24/7. Similarly, I used to check my phone incessantly — without any prompting — mostly to entertain myself in everyday situations. I was allowing my mind to obsess over the latest updates, notifications, texts, tweets, and posts rather than focusing on the real world, and especially the people around me.
So, I’ve taken Harris’ advice and started practicing mindfulness and meditation in my own life. I have to say it has already had hugely positive ramifications, which is why I’m writing about it here. It doesn’t take much to regain control of your life and drastically reduce the stress of smartphone addiction.
For example, you can charge your phone in another room besides your bedroom. I used to check my phone every morning after waking up and every evening before bed. Now I limit my interactions during these times and instead focus on a relaxing start and end to the day. You can put your phone on silent while you’re working. If you’re expected to focus on something, don’t let your phone distract you. You’ll find that you can start to appreciate the work you’re doing again.
Another challenge is to resist the urge to use your phone as a distraction from life. Sometimes mindfulness means becoming aware of how you feel in seemingly “boring” moments throughout the day. Now, instead of checking my phone while waiting in line, I just wait in line. Likewise, I eat meals without needing to scroll through Instagram at the same time. Throughout the day, I actively remind myself to pause, look around, and enjoy a few mindful moments. When was the last time you noticed what a snowflake looks like as it falls all the way to the ground? (I see snow out my window right now.) Or the last time you actually tasted the coffee you’re drinking? You’d be surprised how it can feel incredibly relaxing to slow down time by avoiding unnecessary distractions.
Lastly, I recommend deleting some apps — especially at least one social media app. If you want to use your phone less, then give yourself one less notification to read or one less mindless game to play. Instead, use your new free time to take up an activity that reengages you with the world. I have been spending more time with people, more time reading books, and more time blogging. It’s amazing how beneficial replacing even small amounts of time with a more soul-satisfying activity can be.
As I sit here watching driver after driver checking their phone, I think there’s an important message to spread: It’s okay to put the phone down. In fact, it’s okay to not even have the phone within reach at all times. You might just be surprised how great you feel by doing it.
A lot of us would have heard of the term User Experience. We’ve also heard the term User Interface. Did you know that User Experience is not the same as User Interface? So why is it that I consistently see a UX/UI Designer roles advertised? As if they are part of the same job. They aren’t. Here is why.
First and foremost, a User Experience Designer is primarily focused on the users of your product/service. These users being both the consumers, as well as the people within your business. From a high level, their ultimate goal is to establish what your product/service is required to do, in order to provide the best value to your target audience. With this in mind, some of the tasks they work on (not a complete list) are:-
As you can see only the last list item really focuses on design, and this is more about visualising both the information architecture and the interactive flow of the application via the designs. So with this said, a User Experience Designer does not necessarily have the skills nor the creativity to design the system and make it look beautiful. And even if they do, they already have enough work on their plate to ensure that the product/service is being built as expected to suit our audience.
It is my opinion that the designer role is a separate individual role. Why? Well lets see some of the things they do (not a complete list either).
Now please understand, if you are a reading this article, and are either a UX Designer or a UI Designer, I am simply a developer. I do not completely understand everything these 2 roles do entirely. I’m sure there is more that these roles do. However my point of this article was to detail how I feel these roles are completely different, and should be treated as such.
I have seen a number of companies invest in just 1 UX/UI Designer. What I have noticed about these individuals is they are either overworked, and do not have enough time to do all tasks required accurately, or even worse, they are simple UI Designers, who have done a little bit of UX. Sure you think this is ok, but to me UX is everything to a product/service. It is a full time job of it’s own.
Not only is it important to me that this role be kept separate from a UI Designer, but if I could afford it, I would have at least 2 UX Designers for each project I have that requires their services. That’s how valuable they are to me. In fact, if I was to start a product/service based business tomorrow and could only start out with one employee along with myself, I would choose a UX Designer over any other role. I don’t think enough people understand how important a UX Designer is to a product/service based business. If you don’t have a solid understanding of what you should do to get the best out of your product/service, then you will fail, no matter how good it looks or how well it’s developed.
Bottom line. Keep the UX Designer role separate from a UI Designer. Both roles are way too important to try and save money on. Invest in the 2 roles separately and I guarantee it will be worth the investment.
My wife and I stopped handing over our smartphones. We couldn't have guessed what would happen next.
As a proud dad to two young children, I love my kids.
Most of the time.
But there's a specific set of circumstances that proves especially challenging for my wife and I: going out to eat with friends--who don't have kids.
Whenever we'd head out to a restaurant, it was almost impossible to have a conversation. Basically because after a few minutes, we were always faced with the same complaint: "I'm bored."
So, like many other parents I know, we'd resort to what we knew would keep them occupied and give us the best opportunity at salvaging the evening: We handed over the iPhone.
I always felt a little guilty doing it, like I was cheating. I'd even defend my actions to my friends, saying something like: "It's the only way we'll get to talk."
Of course, it only started with these dinner outings. Once my children realized that there was the potential for instant entertainment, they started asking for the phone (or tablet) more and more.
At the doctor's office:
"I'm bored. Can I watch a cartoon?"
Long car trips:
"I'm bored. Can I play a video game?"
Waiting in line, anywhere:
"I'm bored. Can you give me something to do?"
Many times I gave in...but deep down, I knew it couldn't be good.
Then, about a month ago, I read this great New York Times article by Pamela Paul: Let Children Get Bored Again.
"Boredom is something to experience rather than hastily swipe away," Paul argued. "Boredom is useful. It's good for you."
"Of course, it's not really the boredom itself that's important; it's what we do with it," she continued. "When you reach your breaking point, boredom teaches you to respond constructively, to make something happen for yourself. But unless we are faced with a steady diet of stultifying boredom, we never learn how."
Turns out, there's lots of research to back up Paul's argument.
For example, this Quartz article cites a 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology that found bored people "are more likely to engage in sensation seeking--that is, to look for activities or sights that engage their minds and stimulate the brain's reward centers." Such people were "more prone to 'divergent thinking styles'--the ability to come up with creative new ideas."
I also thought back to my own childhood days. There were no smartphones, no tablets. Heck, the Game Boy hadn't been invented when I was my son's age.
"If you complained about being bored back then, you were really asking for it," writes Paul. "'Go outside,' you might get, or worse, 'Clean your room.'"
"Was this fun? No. Was it helpful? Yes."
Yes, yes! This is what I needed to hear! It was time to let my kids get bored again.
The next time we went out to eat, it didn't take five minutes.
"I'm bored. Can I play a video game?"
"No," I responded.
"Then what should I do?"
"I don't know. Figure it out."
Then, something interesting started to happen.
My son, who's learning to read, started looking around. He began sounding out words, wherever he could find: posted signs, the menu.
This was amazing. Despite my wife and my efforts to make reading fun, my son hates reading homework. This kind of practice is invaluable. On the weekend, no less.
Wow, I mumbled to myself. It works.
Of course, that only lasted a few minutes.
"Now I really don't know what to do," my son told me.
"Maybe you can try talking to our friends," I suggested. "What can you learn about them?"
What followed was a great conversation between my children and our adult friends. They learned about each other, about their likes and dislikes, their upbringings, what they shared in common.
There were lots of laughs in between.
Best of all, my children were no longer the distraction, or the obstacle standing in the way of a great evening with friends. They were part of that evening, playing a role just as large as the rest of us.
It may have started with boredom, but it ended with resourcefulness.
And I guess my kids got something out of it, too.