person walking on phone
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You’re on your commute, or in line for coffee, or riding the elevator. You have five, maybe 10 minutes to spare.

What do you do? Meditate? Contemplate your thoughts?

I doubt it. You probably do what most of us do: Pull out your phone.

Someone recently said something that really stuck with me: Our phones are anti-risk devices. We’d rather turn to them than sit with our worries, socialize with the people around us, or, gasp, do nothing and have others see us doing nothing.

But the real reason these are anti-risk devices is because they prevent us from doing things that make us uncomfortable. Scroll through our phone while sitting at a bar alone? Easy. Introduce ourselves to the person next to us at the bar? Not as easy.

And this attitude manifests itself into our careers, too. When we’re riding solo at a networking event, we reload Instagram for the 30th time rather than make eye contact with a stranger. A stranger who could very well be that person who helps us out.

When we’re in between meetings, we text people we really don’t need to be talking to rather than make conversation with our co-workers around us. Co-workers, I add, who might end up being incredibly valuable connections down the road.

Sure, talking to people can be hard, and nerve-wracking, and exhausting (especially for introverts). And I’m not saying you’re burning all your bridges by occasionally turning to your phone when you’re tired, not in the mood, or just need an escape.

But if we stopped ourselves every once in a while from using it as a crutch, what could we accomplish? What relationships could we build? What risks could we force ourselves to take?

Give putting your phone away—even at the most uncomfortable times—a try this week. And if something amazing happens, let me know on Twitter. I’ll respond when I’m not making new friends!