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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Bin that BlackBerry

It amuses me how much waffle there is around "work life balance", flexible working and so on, and then those who claim to have the most stress whip out their BlackBerry (other smartphones are available) at any opportunity.

Why?

Are they so important that every single email must be read and responded to the minute it arrives? Is it a statement of how fashionable (and important) they are to the rest of society?

I regard myself as an early adopter in most respects when it comes to technology. I've tried smartphones, including brand new models, but now I have two residing in the bottom of a drawer somewhere, and I use an old-fashioned mobile phone that doesn't do email. I don't need email 24/7. If I'm delayed at an airport, or in a hotel, I'd rather use the wi-fi network and my laptop. Goodness knows why anyone would prefer a tiny keypad and screen, and costly GPRS, to The Full Monty.

The only benefit of smartphones is when you're constantly on the road, driving from meeting to meeting, and you need to quickly catch up on mail.

I won't even use one on short train journeys because that time, to me, is better spent reading a newspaper or marketing magazine. A few gems learnt and dropped into a presentation or converation are more valuable than responding to a non-urgent email.

You wouldn't believe how many of my colleagues surreptitiously tap away on their smartphones during meetings, having been asked to put down the lids of their laptops. They've lost sight of the fact that the face-to-face contact is far more important. I was appalled when a senior exec from the US once spent the whole of a dinner in a charming Parisian restaurant doing email. He should have taken the opportunity to chat to, and learn from, European colleagues he hardly ever had the chance to see.

My advice is: don't become a slave to your smartphone. Bin that BlackBerry. Human contact and learning is more important.

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