The Smartphone is a remarkable tool. It is a communication device that allows you to make calls, send texts or emails and instantly connect you with people around the world. Also, much of the world’s knowledge is in the palm of your hand. But, is this device helping you be more innovative or is it a hindrance to innovation?

Recently, I was in a meeting when an issue came up that a few years ago would have been a difficult question. The discussion would have been tabled until someone completed the research. But in this meeting, someone did a quick search on a phone, the question was answered, and the discussion continued. This rapid access to information can be critical to innovation.

However, our phones and and being plugged into them can become a big distraction. For example, how many of us are compulsive about checking our phones. If there is a quiet moment, do we reach down, grab our phone, and check to see if someone has been trying to reach us or if there is a new post we might have missed? As I work with companies and individuals, there is a very common problem among the people we meet. Frequently, a person who is trying become more innovative, is struggling with finding the time to be creative. The conclusion they often reach is that they need to be unplugged more. Either at home or in the office, they struggle to remove the distractions that would allow them to carve out more quiet time. They are sure that if they could do this it would help them be more creative.

So, while your phone is a great tool, examine how you use it. Does it distract you from being creative and innovative? If it does, turn it off for a while and leave it in another room. This quiet time alone might be just what you need to create and complete your innovation. We can consider our phone an important tool without letting it control our priorities.

This blog was originally posted April 2, 2013