How did we ever survive without smart phones? You can check your email, Facebook, bank, play games, Google, make a grocery list… I could go on, but you get the idea. The list of reasons to have your head stuck in your phone is just about endless.

I was at a conference for work earlier in the year and one of the presenters was discussing the use of a particular smart phone app in the workplace. He was promoting the use of the app as a learning tool but as a bit of humour showed two photos. The first was of his tea room three years ago. There was a group of women sitting around and to be honest I didn’t really know where he was going, as it looked like a pretty typical scene. The second photo was of the tea-room this year and the difference was obvious – almost without exception, every person in the shot was looking into their phone.

Sometimes I feel like a zombie possessed, scrolling, rolling, flicking screens back and forth –  Google, bank, email, text, email. Honestly there is so much to catch up on there is barely enough time to eat on my break let alone talk to co-workers!

You guessed it – todays rule for the rest of the month is no phone in the tea room – to see if my phone is causing me to disconnect from colleagues in favour of technology.  This morning, as I went on my break I grabbed it out of my locker as habit but remembered my rule so diligently returned it before going for morning tea. I was sitting next to my friend making plans and she (as is normal) picked up her phone and started surfing for info, dates etc. – all the necessary stuff to make more definite plans. I felt a little bit like a cheater, but I suppose, it wasn’t my phone and after all this is a personal experiment. Besides – I wanted to know the information she was looking up! After a quick update of my emails in the locker room I returned to work, with no difference in not having my phone.

Lunch however was another story. With a longer break I had more time to kill. I remembered I had to find a local company – of course, my initial reaction was to quick draw my phone from my pocket – but no – this was now a no phone zone! I decided to look it up in the phone book after my break – something I hadn’t done in ages. So with my head up instead of buried into my phone I started talking to my neighbour about the weather. I would normally have had brief exchanges in between doing my very important jobs, but today I was involved in the conversation. We ended up in fits of laughter.

Break done and it’s time to tackle my errand. I asked our receptionist where the phone book lived. Seeing me rifling through the yellow pages a couple of people came up and asked me what I was looking up – maybe the deed was foreign to them now as well! I was amazed that two people had really great suggestions to my dilemma. Because of their advice, I saved time and money and didn’t even have to look up the local company I was after. If I had just searched it in my phone I would have had about thirty listings in two seconds. Very fast, very effective, job done, tick it off the list. But… I would not have had the laughs in the tea room and I probably would not have thought of the alternative that was suggested to me.

I know that this outcome could have come in a number of other ways – but the fact remains, it did eventuate as a direct result of introducing a no phone zone. One point for reconnecting.