I’d like to start by saying I’m not anti-mobile phones. I’m not going to suggest you go off and live in the woods where you can’t hear any notifications for miles around. It wouldn’t be a realistic request. Whether we like it or not mobile phones are here to stay and they have been revolutionary to humanity as a species but they may be impacting you in a negative day to day way particularly when it comes to your own productivity.
If you are trying to do something which takes focus and concentration, as we all are at one point or another, it is incredibly rewarding for us to get into the zone and stay focused on that thing for long periods of time. Your phone is designed to grab your attention and so is constantly trying to pull you out of what you are doing and on to its apps.
I really recommend that if you are looking for an effective way to cut down on your phone usage that you turn off notifications on your phone. Your phone notifications could possibly be having career-damaging effects on your focus. When your phone pings it causes your mind to wander even for a moment and it can take a while before you are able to be in the same focused flow as you were in before the notification. The FSU found that receiving a notification can be as distracting as receiving a phone call for work due to the time it takes you to make a mental note to respond. They also found in a study that 23% of students undertaking a task were likely to mess up the task when performing it while receiving notifications. Needless to say, it’s really bad for your concentration.
I recommend going into your settings and turning off all the notifications for apps you don’t use and all the push notifications for apps you do use. When you have time to check your messages you can go into your phone and check them in the apps which will have a symbol on them notifying you. This will stop your phone from distracting you with notifications and allow you to focus for longer.
Colour is extremely stimulating for our brains. It’s often used in advertising and marketing in extreme ways to grab our attention. Think of how casinos are illuminated with bright flashing lights or how nightclubs and concerts use lighting to generate atmosphere and energy. As we’ve evolved to be hyper perceptive toward different colours phone developers have used these colours to manipulate us. For example, they use the colour red next to an app to indicate that you have a notification as they know that red is an extremely triggering colour for us and our eyes are drawn to it.
To combat this I recommend turning your phone to black and white mode. If you didn’t know you could do that, that’s because most companies don’t want you to know how and it’s actually fairly simple. Go to your accessibility settings and find the colour filters. Then you’ll get a picture of some coloured pencils and options where you can find Grayscale then just turn it on and your phone is in black and white. It will make your notifications less attention-grabbing and it also makes the apps that you use to distract yourself less appealing. Candy crush in grayscale is not a fun game.
Ultimately the best way to stop your phone from distracting you while you’re working is to leave it in another room. You won’t get the buzz from the phone and you won’t be tempted to pick it up when you’re bored. So often when I’m writing and I find myself stuck my first reaction is to reach for my phone and without even knowing it I’m back scrolling through something mindless with my attention completely lost.
Keep it in another room. Don’t go near it. Your phone is the enemy of your productivity and if it’s the enemy of your productivity it’s the enemy of your career.
Try not to sleep with your phone nearby. I know this is hard but I promise you that this can make a big difference to how you feel when you go to bed and wake up. Sleep is the foundation of your health. It’s the pillar upon which a healthy diet and exercise can benefit you. Blue light is emitted by your phone screen and it can have a strange effect on your brain. Blue light is perceived by your brain as daylight whether that comes from a screen or from outside. This means that your brain will find it much harder to switch off at night and give you a good deep nights rest. By removing the phone from your bedside it means that you will be able to have deeper more restorative sleep.
Not only this but different apps will try to keep you distracted first thing in the morning and the last thing when you go to bed. This can lead to you staying up later and later which again affects your sleep and your overall health negatively.
Ultimately, phones are not evil, but they are clever and they will try to steal your attention if you’re not careful. Taking some simple precautions against them will give you a good chance at staying focused and being able to give your time full to the things that you find meaningful.