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A Manifesto on Smartphone Rules and Expectations

By Eric Herdman
Eric@EricHerdman.com

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Are you aware that there are Smartphone rules?

Who made up these rules?

Who set these expectations that we must all follow?

Where is it written that I have to have my notifications on?

Where is the contractual obligation that I must respond in a specific given period of time?

I just had a discussion with someone who got (as my mom would say) “all high and mighty” or as my family in the UK might say “cocksure” with me about not responding to their text message.

It started like this…

Them- hey, you gonna ever respond to my message. (This was their greeting)

Me- Hi there!

Them- Did you see I sent you a text? Are you going to reply?

Me- No I didn’t see it yet. I will reply. When I have time set aside to do so.

Them- what?

Me- I said, No, I did not see it yet and I will reply when I decide to.

Them- I heard you but I sent it yesterday morning.

Me- great! Thank you. I’m sure I’ll see it and get to it over the weekend.

Them- weekend? Get to them soon? It’s a text message. You need to answer those right away!

Me- (now he pissed me off) I do, hmmmm. According to whom? I typically don’t operate by responding to other people’s agenda and priorities. This is unless I have set it up and agreed to it. Plus, I didn’t even know you sent it. I don’t utilize my notification on my phone. (Recently, I extended this to all devices)

Them- what?!?!?!

Me- yeah, all of my notifications on my phone are off.

Them- (head about to explode) you don’t have your notification on. How do you know…

Me- (I cut them off) How do I know I have a message, a missed call, an email and Voxer, a WhatsApp message, a Facebook like, an IG heart? I don’t… until I look. You see, I decide when to look and respond. I am not a hyper-responsive sheep. I don’t respond on other people’s agenda, I respond on mine.

Them- That’s not cool. That’s not cool at all. (Note: as he keeps looking at his phone. Struggling to balance the every two to five seconds it beeps with our conversation)

Me- Actually, it is. I am much more productive, get more done with less distractions, have greater focus, suffer no attention residue and can double down on my deep highly focused work with great accuracy. I also sleep much better because of this.

Them- whatever! I sent it!

Me- yeah you said that.

Who made these rules? Where are they written?

How about this…

I turn my phone to this all red

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non-blue light format 2.5 – 3 hours before bed. I do this to block the cortisol stimulating, melatonin suppressing blue light. One hour before bed… wait for it… I turn my phone off. That’s right, all the way off. Shut down. Off.

I said this recently in one of my seminars and I got asked; if you turn your phone off 1 hour before bed, what do you do then? I was speechless. Not really but I was befuddled by this question.

Are you thinking… you turn your phone off, but you turn it on as soon as you wake up, right? No way! Why would I do that? That (the first 65-80 minutes) is the most productive part of my day. Turning on the phone would be the death of that productivity. No, I usually fire it up after I shower and do my morning routine. I begrudgingly turn it on before I have my to leave for my first appointment or meeting or conduct a call. Then it’s only on to look and see if that meeting or appointment has changed or been modified by my assistant overnight. She is great. She works on East Coast time and is three hours in front of my day.

Back in the day… I purposely waited to reply to emails so as to not let people think they would always get an immediate response from me. If I was working on something important I might not answer the phone at all, returning the call only if a voicemail is left. I still do this. If you call me and think just because you called I will return your call, I will not. Please leave a voicemail or call back.

Try this one on for size.

I only check my email once a day. I have a time block on my daily schedule to check my email accounts. I’m in and out and nobody gets hurt.

These rules you have–that we must reply ASAP, answer every call, be notified when someone you don’t like comments on your selfie or your lunch that took you 27 pics to get perfect (#FakeLife), respond to every ding and chirp like Pavlov’s dog, having loud audible alerts on like you are a Fireman waiting to be dispatched to an emergency (#YouAreNotThatImportant)–are quite simply idiotic. These are not my rules they are your self-imposed regulations and guidelines you in all likelihood subscribe to.

Where do people get the idea that these rules are out there and must be adhered to?

They are not part of my cellular service agreement. They are not issued to me to abide by when I get my new iPad or iPhone. They are not in any waiver or contract I’ve signed. They are your rules. You want me to follow them. You have cajoled yourself into believing that everybody does what you want on your imaginary timeline. #IamNotYourPuppet

What about, yeah but, and what ifs…

Yes, I do have time blocks in my schedule that I create to check these different modes of messages and communications. Some I do check everyday, some every other and yes some only once every 10-14 days. It is not unusual for me to not check text messages but once or twice a day. It is also not unusual for me to not reply to text messages for up to 3 days from when they are received. It’s all about schedules, focus, and my priorities. Look around, by doing this the world has not ended.

I have a system to ensure that the one or two people that need to get a hold of me instantly can do so.

What about your clients and customers?

As a speaking event closes in I have a system set up so that the decision makers for these events (the people that hire and pay me) can, will and do get in touch with me or my assistant if needed.

What about other important business matters? I do have my ways. I have specific systems, people and methods to get notified about important business and money making endeavors. These notifications are not normal alerts and buzzing, they are controlled by me and my support staff. I have not missed a deal, a speaking date or flight due to these habits and practices. I promise an excellent client and customer experience. I deliver. I maintain that one of the ways I can outservice others and give such an excellent customer experience is by doing some of the things I mentioned above. I have unwavering attention when giving a speech or seminar. I can create great work and content for my clients. My business partners want me to focus, deliver great talks, write good material, and be present with them and my/our clients.

I am certain of one thing. That by not being a hyper-responsive, easily distracted tool, I am mindful, present and focused on my family, self, work and clients. I could not do this at such a high level if I were being distracted by multiple audible, visual and tactile notifications.

In closing, please consider the following…

I use technology. Technology doesn’t use me.

I use social media. It doesn’t use me.

I work without distraction.

I am okay without my phone.

I respond on my agenda, not because a device we are tethered to 24/7 told me to.

I am okay not being hyper-responsive to all alerts.

My phone and devices work for me, they don’t work me!

I work without the bondage and tugging of useless noise and notifications from a device that was invented to make our lives better. That’s how I choose to use it – as a device to make my life better.