While advancements in technology have caused huge advancements in every industry, it also comes with a price. Instant communication, thanks to our mobile devices, means instant distractions. Not only do notifications from our phones – also called “push notifications” – divert our attention from work, but now we wait in anticipation of the next one.
How many times a day do you glance at your phone while working, worried that you may have missed an alert like a reminder of an upcoming event or even from your phone carrier – reminding you that it’s time to pay your bill?
How Bad Are Mobile Notifications Anyway?
According to a 2014 study by Ricoh Americas Corp., more than three quarters of employees in the U.S. are distracted by their mobile phones. In fact, the study found that, over the course of a week, 67% of employees are likely to send personal texts and 61% will take at least one personal call on the clock.
Social media only adds to the issue. A recent study by LISTEN by RealNetworks of more than 1,200 employees found that 38% used their phone to check social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. And about 68% use their phones as a way to check up with friends.
How many times does your phone alert you? While you’re working, it reminds you that your prescriptions are ready at the pharmacy, that you need to pick your daughter up from school, or that it’s time to pay your mobile phone bill. Every time your phone sends you one of these push notifications, your concentration is affected.
According to the recent FSU study, “Attentional Costs of Receiving a Cell Phone Notification,” simply knowing you’ve received a mobile alert can impair work performance. This lack of attention, and the need to multitask at work in order to use our phones while also doing our jobs, is widely considered the biggest issue of today’s workplace by organizational management professionals and scientists.
A Stanford University studied showed that those who try to multitask have poorer attention spans, difficulties memorizing and can’t focus for long periods of time. The result? Reduced productivity at work and less engagement at home.
Why Are We Distracted By Our Phones?
Our workdays are challenging enough thanks to tighter budgets, heavy workloads, and deadlines. When push notifications are added to the mix, the ability to stay focused can become challenging.
Alex Cequea, former editor-in-chief of iPhone Life Magazine, told Fast Money Magazine that mobile phones are the “the gateway drug to endless hours of procrastination.”
We typically use our phones in the workplace to remedy boredom, to distract us from challenges, and to relieve stress.
How to Break the Mobile Phone Habit
If you check your mobile device for push notifications within an hour of waking up, you’re not alone. In fact, 70% of people in the U.S. check their phones almost as urgently as they make coffee.
If you want to sustain work productivity, consider eliminating the regular mobile phone checks.
- Focus only on the task at hand. Mindful practices, such as meditation and yoga, can be good practice for training your mind to only be present for the matter at hand. Concentrate on one task at a time.
- Set your phone on vibrate or silence it while you’re working. If you must use your phone for your job, designate a special ring tone – or silence the text/call alerts from family members and friends.
- Limit your social media checks and other personal mobile phone usage to lunch and other personal breaks.
- If you must answer a personal push notification on the job, remember that you are in a public place. Step outside or duck into a conference room to take your personal calls.
Keep your work duties – and your job performance – higher on your list of priorities than those texts from friends about tee-time or a great new lunch spot. Consider this: your job pays the mobile phone bill that your cellular carrier constantly reminds you of almost every time you check your phone.