Editor’s note: The following Practice Builder pertains to Gary Sherwood, an independent dairy nutritionist from Verona, N.Y.

When nutritionist Gary Sherwood drives onto a farm to meet with a client, he wants to give the client his undivided attention.

Among other things, that means leaving the cell phone in the car.

He’s mindful that cell phones and other gadgetry can be distracting and get in the way of effective communication.

On rare occasions when he forgets to leave the cell phone in the car, and has it on his person while talking to a client, he won’t answer it if it rings. That has prompted some clients to joke, “That’s why you don’t answer the phone if I call you.” But he tries to answer calls as promptly as possible — again, not interrupting the immediate matters at hand.  

“We get so many distractions today,” Sherwood says. “And then we lose what’s important and what’s not important,” he says. “You can’t prioritize what you should be doing because there are so many distractions.”

The importance of this was driven home in a news report that Sherwood saw on Oct. 16.  The report suggested that children get at least 10 hours of sleep and, on top of that, a certain amount of quiet time away from television and other gadgetry.