At the time, I was a college kid and hadn't realized the power of mobile. Eight years later, I've seen much of my day-to-day transfer to my phone. Communication tools like Slack, Trello, and Google Docs don't just work on mobile, they're fun to use. Coupled with iPhone's regular upgrades in speed and size, working from your phone has become easier than ever.
It's clear we're moving towards a fully mobile future, with over 75 percent of U.S. internet users accessing the internet through mobile devices. How work is evolving is important for every business. But because our company is helping empower the future of work, it's especially important.
So I asked myself: Could we go all in? Is it possible to run our multimillion-dollar company only from a phone?
For one week, I tried. Here's what happened:
1. Working from a phone helps you focus
As CEO of two fast-growing internet companies, I have no choice but to be as productive as possible. But trying to do too many things at once is one of the biggest killers of productivity.
Studies prove it's impossible for us to multitask. On your phone, the smaller screen size forces you to focus on one thing at a time. When I write on my laptop, a typical blog post takes me two hours to put together. When I wrote on my phone, it took 30 minutes. I was four times faster writing on mobile.
2. Working from a phone makes you a better communicator
When messaging a teammate, my words were also more concise when I wrote from my phone. This is huge. How well you communicate will largely determine your success. Our working memory can only hold five to nine pieces of information at a time. So our brains prefer simple messages.
3. Working from a phone removes a barrier to start work
My brain associates my computer with work. And because work is often challenging, my brain can get lazy and try to avoid it.
Meanwhile, my brain associates my phone with fun. When I switched to working on mobile, the barrier to start work was gone. I'm lying on my couch writing this blog post right now, and it doesn't feel like work. It feels like I'm texting a friend.
But working from a phone wasn't all great.
1. I was slower
Despite writing this post quickly, in other cases I couldn't type as fast on a phone. And certain apps were easier to use on my laptop.
2. It was physically challenging
After two days, my hand hurt. Eventually, it hurt enough that I had to stop. I was showing symptoms of BlackBerry thumb, a minor condition that comes from repeated thumb typing.
Working for hours from my phone was also hard on my eyes. Because we hold our phones closer to our faces, it creates more eye tension, which leads to fatigue and temporary blurred vision.
However, both of these physical problems are easily solved. Lynn Bassini, a certified hand therapist, suggests not pushing on the screen so hard and using the nail of your thumb to scroll.
For eye fatigue, the Mayo Clinic suggests the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away from your screen for 20 seconds.
While working from a phone still isn't great for every task, it's great for most. After my experiment, I feel confident we'll be working fully mobile within a few years. This leaves me to wonder what working in a screenless world will look like. At the rate we're going, I'll need to do another experiment soon.