Alex Wilson

Imagine — you’re trying to have a serious conversation with a co-worker, but every time you get to an important statement you hear a ping! and your co-worker goes to check their phone. Not only do you have to restart your statement, but you know that you don’t have your co-worker’s full attention. So much for a phone as a helpful communication device, right?

With all of the ways teams can communicate in (and out of) the office, there’s a lot of pressure to stay connected all of the time. There are, however, plenty of reasons why it’s good to disconnect. Not just to support your mental health and well-being, but also so you can be more productive and help yourself at work.

It can feel strange to not have your phone at first, but you’ll be surprised at how good you feel once you commit to disconnecting. Here are some of the benefits from putting your phone away.

1. You’ll be more engaged.

To test out how disconnecting feels, try leaving your phone at your desk the next time you attend a group meeting. By leaving your phone behind, you’ll focus more on the person speaking than the near-constant phone buzz. Focusing more lwill make you an active participant in your team’s meetings. You’ll think of questions and concerns more quickly than you would have if you were spending the meeting glued to your phone.

2. You’ll sleep better

Studies have shown that the blue LED light from our smart devices disturbs our sleep schedule. When we don’t sleep well, we don’t perform well. “Sleep is important for learning, memory, brain development, health,” sleep researcher Steven Lockley said to The Washington Post. “You couldn’t design a worse system for learning.”

In addition, the National Sleep Foundation’s most recent study shows that 35% of Americans are getting fair or poor levels of sleep. If you feel tired right after you've woken up, you haven't gotten enough sleep to support you throughout your work day. Putting your phone away can help you sleep more.

3. You'll clarify your work-life boundaries.

If you allow your team to call you at 9 PM on weeknights to go over non-urgent items, they’ll get accustomed to doing so.  Don’t hesitate to tell your team what times you’re available and what methods they can use to reach you.  Promoting a strong work-life balance is key to being a good manager — and a good employee.

The next chance you have to sit down with your boss, review your work hours and the best ways to reach you outside of them.  This is a good way to promote yourself, but it’s also a great way to learn if your boss is a good manager. If your boss doesn't respect your work-life balance, it should raise a red flag.

4. You’ll focus on quality over quantity.

Which sounds more impactful: a texting conversation about a strategy for tomorrow’s presentation or a clear, concise email dictating what the strategy is?  If you think the latter sounds better, then you probably appreciate the email’s focus; it has the same point as the text messages but is one message as opposed to several.

When you’re less connected, you’ll learn how one message can be just as impactful as many smaller messages.  You’ll also strengthen your communication skills by learning how to be more effective with less.

5. You’ll be more productive.

Less distractions means more productivity. Put your phone on airplane mode for an hour and see how far you can get through an important assignment — you’ll be surprised!  Our phones can be huge forms of distraction and putting them aside is a great first step. You can also boost your productivity by shutting off notifications in general.  Ask yourself – do you really need to know exactly when your favorite Instagram account posts a new pic? If not, you can shut it off.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, there are plenty of small steps towards being less reliant on your phone.  The first of those is to build up your resolve; respect yourself and your time, and others will follow.