Don't let your smart phone steal your focus.
I might have a smart-phone addiction, Do you?

I’ve been reading up on the brain-smart-phone addiction and I’m alarmed. Did you know having our smart phone near us at work reduces our accuracy and productivity? Yikes! 😱

We all know our phones can be distractions sometimes. Unfortunately, we may not be giving enough credence to the harm they are doing. The attention we give our phones is negatively impacting our time management, stress levels, and results. That’s not all! Our phone addictions are damaging how we are perceived by others too.

That’s right! Constantly checking our phones makes us less effective AND causes others to be feel disrespected and de-valued.

Got your attention yet? Cool.

A research study completed by Ward, produced interesting results… Student exam scores were compared between having their phones with them during the exam and leaving them in another room. The research looked at working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. When their phones were in another room, students scored higher and perceived the exams as easier! 

Would you like your work to feel easier AND improve your performance?

Yes? Great! Let’s dive deeper into how your phone is affecting your focus and performance. I’ll begin with a couple reality checks: 

1)smart phones are helpful tools, and they are massive distractions.

It doesn’t matter if you have it on silent or aren’t actively scrolling or checking emails. Having your phone nearby messes with your mind. This phenomenon called the phone proximity effect, means your brain is constantly on alert, subconsciously thinking about that little device. If the phone is near, your mind is listening for the next alert and concerned about what it’s missing. Crazy, right?!

2) Multitasking is a myth. 

At work, it doesn’t matter if the phone is on our desk, in a bag, or in our pocket, our attention is split. We sense the ding, buzz, or vibration, and it’s nearly impossible to resist the urge to check what just arrived. And there we go! The brain has shifted from the task-at-hand to something completely unrelated. If we are successful in NOT looking at it, our attention has already been stolen.

This divided attention creates the opposite of focus.  Many of us believe we are skilled at multi-tasking and a quick check of the phone is not a problem. The truth is, our brain DOES NOT multi-task. It has become adept at moving quickly from thing-to-thing, but can only focus on one thing at a time.

Checking your phone may only take a few seconds, sure. After those seconds, your mind has to re-focus to back on the meeting, conversation, or project. As is refocuses, at best you have lost some time. Worse, you’ve missed an important point in the discussion, and it’s obvious to others your attention is not on them.

3) The continual alert mode we’ve been conditioned into isn’t just annoying – it’s anxiety-inducing.

Bouncing back and forth between our phones and the task-at-hand creates a bogus sense of urgency. Think about it, how often is what you see truly urgent? (Rarely.) None-the-less, cortisol levels stay jacked-up with the self-induced “urgencies” and artificial stress.

I don’t know about you, but I’m stressed out just thinking about how my phone is sabotaging me! 

Let’s shift gears and look at strategies to help break this phone addiction, reclaim our focus, and eliminate some stress:

1) Raise your awareness. Take a realistic look at how much your smart phone is running your life.

For one day, track every time you get an urge to pick up your phone. You may be surprised how quickly those urges add up!

2) Identify Your Triggers.  Boredom? Stress? The need to feel connected? 

What makes you automatically reach for your phone, even to your detriment? Knowing what triggers the phone-grab, can help begin to break the addiction. Notice patterns in the timing of your scrolling, and plan for how to resist the phone at those times.

3) Create Physical SeparationOne way to break the grip your phone has on you is to physically separate yourself from it. Give yourself a barrier to checking it. Having to get up and move will quickly reduce the temptation to constantly check your phone.

Out of sight really can be out of mind! And, a little distraction-free time will bring more efficiency and effectiveness to you.

4) Scheduled Check-Ins. Set specific times to check your phone for messages and updates. (Yes, set an alert if needed.)

Having dedicated times to catch up on “phone stuff” will help your brain separate itself from the high-alert addiction. This will allow you to be more focused, productive, and respectful.

Ok, I know you get it…Your cell phone may be derailing you – in many ways.  I hope you’ll assess the negative impact your smart phone may be having on you, and give our strategies to remedy the addiction a try. The benefits of breaking the phone addiction aren’t only about boosting productivity. Less stress and being more attentive to others will be a win for you as well!

Reach out to the PERSPECTIVES coaches for information on how to become known for your REMARKABLE leadership and outstanding results!

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