They may be called ‘smart’ but phone addictions can cause dumb problems
Cellphones have been dubbed “smartphones” but sometimes the way folks are addicted to them causes dumb problems. I’ve read three articles that suggest that cellphones are creating isolation, poorer communication and less robust relationships.
Stress rises when there is a million-dollar crop to get in the ground, excess moisture, and too many jobs for the short hours of the day.
1. Sleep easy
Sleep is healing and restorative, but are you getting a decent sleep? If your cellphone is in your hand while you sleep or beeping at 5 a.m. you might want to consider turning it off and using a regular old-fashioned alarm clock. Most farmers I know have an adrenalin alarm clock built into their bodies at seeding time. The sun breaks through the window and they are ready to roll.
2. Learn to text
Texting keeps everyone informed and able to ask questions to double-check procedures. “How many acres did you cover?” Was the depth OK?, etc. Communication is about giving and receiving clear messages.
3. Power pack your tractor
I attend enough farm meetings that I have a cache of power packs for my cellphone. Check if your tractor port can house an adapter. While you are checking your tractors, also supply toilet paper and a first aid kit in a lidded ice-cream pail.
4. Leave it at the door
Honour your mother’s request to fill her basket at the back door with your phone when you come to Mom’s for a special dinner. Some homes use a basket at the back door to hold the cellphones while the family celebrates being together. This may be a stretch for those of you working 24-7 to get the crop in, but it would work for better family dialogue if there was a “no cellphones at the table rule.”
5. Manage interruptions
We once had a guest who suggested, “next time they will just call,” as my husband was interrupted several times during our meal. This is the fight/plight of business owners who serve other farmers. Is your mantra to always be “available” no matter what? Boundaries are important for good self-care, especially in 2017’s time-crunch seeding cycle. Make sure that you are rested, well fed and refreshed in order to manage the extra stresses of seeding time. Maybe it is time to change your voicemail to help manage expectations.
6. Social siphon
Avoid the social media vortex of sucking away too much time. You might be wise to use a timer to limit Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. when you really should be napping, or connecting with and playing with your children.
7. Location, location, location
Place your phone in a spot where habitually it works for you. When I travel, my phone is designated to a special pocket of my bag. Guys who put it in shirt pockets have to be careful it doesn’t fall out when they lean over moving parts. Do what works for you, but don’t create extra stress by leaving it on the tractor tire. Always keeping it in your hand is likely a sign you are pretty much addicted to it, and you may be setting yourself up for a physio appointment for sore hand muscles! I use a passport-type neck pouch that is great for having my phone close, but being hands free in the garden and doing field runs.
8. Say it with silence
Give yourself permission to silence your phone. Solitude is a huge gift. It is also a good discipline for blocking time off in silence to think. Think about your plans for the day. Listen to your intuition and reflect. Shut off the truck radio while you wait in the field and just think. When you get some great ideas, jot notes on your phone! Get the thought captured, but go back to thinking about how you can work on your farm business, not just in it.
9. Team sharing
Share seeding actions with the rest of your farm team. A farm team uses Google documents to keep the whole farm team abreast of what is happening on the fields in real time. The data is shared in the cloud so the team has access to all the information it needs to make great management decisions. Group texts may work for you.
10. Subject lines
Email with better subject lines. Take a few extra seconds to refresh or change the subject line so busy people can prioritize your requests. My speaker friend Hugh Culver authored Give Yourself a Break. Culver suggests that your email inbox is someone else’s agenda, NOT YOURS! All capitals suggest that I am screaming at you. I am not. Understanding that your farm team gets to set their agenda is huge when folks start feeling overwhelmed with seeding’s demands.
11. People first
Tools are important, but people come first. Does your cellphone etiquette cause you to put down your phone and look people in the eye when they are conversing with you? Do you ask for permission to take a call?
12. Social media management
Social media support. I use Culver’s Stand out Social at www.getsos.net to help manage my social media. Tell him I sent you.