Mobile phones are the best thing since sliced bread. They are the worst invention since television commercials. Yin. Yang.
Are your mobile devices distracting you from getting things done? Or are they part of your web of tools that you use to accomplish things today?
We all see people with their heads buried in their phones - or computers, or tablets, or whatever. But unless we are sitting right next to them, we don't have much idea what they are doing with those devices. Are they composing the next great novel? Writing their PhD thesis? Playing Angry Birds? Chatting with friends?
The challenge for everyone else is making assumptions about what people are doing. Are they all slackers? Do I just assume they are doing the same kinds of things I do with my devices? Am I a slacker? (Sometimes.) But then I wonder, why do some people seem to be getting more done than others?
It isn't the devices that create the productivity (or lack of productivity). It is how they are used. Just like with email - some people are swamped with email, and others aren't. It is the practice and behaviors that make a difference. In a group setting, it is wise to set and reinforce expectations of behavior and results.
What about on an individual basis? The rules for devices is the same as for just about anything in life. I ask (or should be asking) questions like, "Is that what I want to be doing?" or my favorite, "What does good look like for me today?" This is part of just about every personal effectiveness seminar/book you will ever attend/read. And for a good reason. When I don't consider these things, there is nothing preventing me from a marathon session of game-playing or getting lost in YouTube.
Play. Work. Enjoy. Do.