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smartphones are awesomeA few weeks ago, we had a post published called The Smartphone Syndrome: Are We Becoming Too Addicted To Our Phones For Our Own Good? The Smartphone Syndrome: Are We Becoming Too Addicted To Our Phones For Our Own Good? [Opinion] The Smartphone Syndrome: Are We Becoming Too Addicted To Our Phones For Our Own Good? [Opinion] Let me start by saying that this is not a rant against smartphones, or a call for everyone to go back to Nokia 6070s. I think smartphones are basically awesome and I have nothing against... Read More . There, Yaara wrote why she thinks many people use smartphones way too much, and why they may not be all that great.

While many of Yaara’s arguments are insightful and convincing, I happen to be one of those people who are obsessively tethered to their phone, and may seem (at times) to be addicted to checking email. Rather than hide in the shadows, I’ve decided to explain why I think it’s perfectly fine to check email using my smartphone at odd times.

Peace of Mind

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This one is a bit paradoxical. It may seem that checking email repeatedly is a hectic, stressful activity. I say, it’s quite the contrary. First of all, most of the emails I get tend to be positive, pleasant messages (due to the people I tend to associate with). But even more importantly, often I check email on my phone and see that nothing new has arrived – and that can be a very relaxing experience, which actually lets me “be in the moment” more than wondering whether or not I received a reply.

You may be thinking to yourself that most smartphones chime when a new email is received, and that is correct. But my Gmail account is set up with multiple labels, and I have intentionally configured Gmail to notify me only on the primary label, because I don’t want to be interrupted with emails about other projects when I’m in the middle of something. So when I get a free moment, I sometimes pop into Gmail and go into the Label view, scrolling quickly just to see if there’s anything new. And when there is none, I am that much calmer and present.

Alertness

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I often have a hard time waking up in the morning. I’ve been known to hit the Snooze button repeatedly, sometimes for over an hour. These days, my smartphone serves as my alarm clock. So when I grab it, I just hit the Email button rather than the Snooze one. As I lie there on my back, all groggy and sleepy, scanning the pile of emails that accumulated overnight brings me back to life and helps me kick-start another day. Suddenly I want to get up, because there’s stuff I want to do, there are people I want to reply to, and projects waiting to get done.

Of course, this depends on the type of emails you get. If those emails are negative and stressful, then this is a sure-fire way to become stressed. But if most of the emails you receive are interesting ones about people and projects you care about, this is a lovely way to begin your day.

Responsiveness

why smartphones are good

Unlike other smartphone users, I don’t have a signature that says “Sent from my phone, please excuse typos“. That’s because I don’t necessarily want people to think I replied from my smartphone. I make sure to use a very good keyboard (SlideIt Type Effortlessly & Quickly In Multiple Languages With SlideIT [Android 1.5+] Type Effortlessly & Quickly In Multiple Languages With SlideIT [Android 1.5+] Tapping out a text message on a touchscreen is not my idea of a good time. Annoying typos happen, and even once you gain some skill, the process still feels irritating. I first heard about... Read More when I need to be quiet, FlexT9 Speak Your Email & Text Replies Instead Of Typing Them With FlexT9 Keyboard [Android 2.1+] Speak Your Email & Text Replies Instead Of Typing Them With FlexT9 Keyboard [Android 2.1+] Typing on a tiny touchscreen is not an inherently fun activity. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say "Gosh, I love how I keep making embarrassing typos with this tiny keyboard!" Thankfully,... Read More when I can speak and dictate my emails), and I just write a complete reply on the spot. Emails should usually be short, anyway.

When I send someone an email and they reply within ten minutes, that’s a great experience for me. As a writer, I’m often on a deadline, and it often happens I need extra information as I’m writing up a review. When I write a developer mid-review and get a reply before I finish writing that review, it makes my work that much easier. That’s why I often try to treat others the same way.

Patience

why smartphones are good

Many people are not very good at waiting. This is more evident in some countries than in others, but in general, queues have a way of making people nervous. When I find myself stuck in a queue that’s not moving, I sometimes pass the time by people-watching or just looking at my environment. But if it’s there’s not much to see, I just as often whip out my phone and see if I have any new emails (or play a quick game Robo Defense - A Huge, Addictive Tower Defense Game [Android] Robo Defense - A Huge, Addictive Tower Defense Game [Android] Let me start with a key detail. Robo Defense for Android has a free version, but I will be reviewing the full version, which costs three bucks. I still decided it was worth writing about,... Read More or two 2 Fun, Addictive & Free Bubble-Popping Games [Android] 2 Fun, Addictive & Free Bubble-Popping Games [Android] Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles! We’ve covered some bubble-shooting games before, but those were PC-based. If you’re looking for some bubble-popping fun while you’re on the go, and like free games, you’ve come to the right post.... Read More ). This makes time pass that much faster, and I’m actually using it for something productive. Best of all, I remain cool and calm, and save myself unneeded stress.

Being On Time

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When I set a time to meet somebody, I really don’t like being late. And one of the best ways to never be late is to be early. This used to have a flip-side, as well. Imagine getting somewhere ten minutes early, and having the other person arrive ten minutes late. I just wasted twenty minutes sitting there doing nothing, and I would have definitely been irked at the other person being so late. Today, I tend to mind it much less. Chances are I could have kept on sitting at that same spot being productive for an hour more.

Final Thoughts

Of course, many of these arguments also apply to other activities you can do on your smartphone, and not just email. But email has the advantage of actually being productive, and time you spend on email now is time you don’t have to spend on it later.

Okay, your turn. Am I being obsessive about my emails, or do you think these points are valid? Let me know in the comments.

Image Credits: ShutterStock, ShutterStock, ShutterStock, ShutterStock, ShutterStock, ShutterStock

  1. Robin Ashe
    November 6, 2011 at 1:15 am

    I agree. Unlike people who think email on the go is a bad thing, I have the capacity to decide whether I want to deal with something or not. I'll check to see who is sending the message/calling, and make a decision based on that. There's always a chance that it's someone close to me in the hospital or some other emergency that I will regret not dealing with. If it's unimportant, I can just skim or ignore it, and deal with it later. Being 100% connected gives you choice. Being 100% disconnected forces a choice on you. I know which one I prefer, and that's not even a matter of opinion. I'm right about this, and anyone who disagrees is wrong.

    Because really, if you don't want to be able to immediately deal with some communication that your best friend is in the hospital, you're a horrible person.

  2. Andrei
    November 5, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Some of your arguments seem over-generalizing. The people who get to write on blogs are usually outspoken people, that may have some direct client contact and have bloged before. As such, mailing and bloging are an essential part of their life, and they praise bloging and mailing tools (like smartphones, tablets, sometimes gmail) above all else.

    But many (most?) of the rest of us have other things to do. The times you are offline and waiting for the next meeting are great times to plan ahead, make sense of your day, read uninterrupted or... hell...  even prepare for the meeting :). So, while I often carry a small laptop when commuting, i do not plan to get the latest smartphone anytime soon.

  3. Mike
    November 4, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    I have quite the opposite opinion... By checking your [business] mails on your smartphone you take away your own downtime where you could otherwise simply drift your mind off work and relax.

    Simply the possibility to check your mails everywhere at any time sets your mind to the state where you have to check the emails whenever possible which in my opinion doesn't give you any peace of mind.

    Imagine the last thing you do before turning around for sleep is checking your mails at your smartphone ... I work to have a [decent] life, I don't live to work

    • Erez Zukerman
      November 5, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      That's very true, and that's why I don't actually check emails right before going to sleep. :)

  4. Mark Patterson
    November 4, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Yes you are being obsessive.  You probably also have the number one worst characteristic of a smartphone addict - rudeness. I am frequently amazed by folks who will interrupt or drift away from conversations so that they can stare at their phone. It is    a pathology and your rationalization of your own addiction is not persuasive.

    • Erez Zukerman
      November 5, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      Where did I say that I interrupt... oh wait, I just got an email

      Seriously though, where did I say I interrupt a conversation to look at my phone?

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