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In the age of social networks, when you can start talking to anybody in a matter of seconds, we all feel the need to be available at all times.
However, reaching for your phone every other minute and quickly glimpsing at it just in case there is something new, obviously doesn’t help your work.
Today I’ll give you some easy ideas of what you can do to reduce your cell phone distractions in the workplace to a minimum.
An addiction to distraction is the end of your creative production.Robin Sharma
When you realize that half of the workday is gone and you haven’t even done anything useful yet, your phone is often the one to blame. Even if you don’t scroll through your feed for too long, being regularly distracted by a seemingly harmless two-second phone check breaks your focus and makes your brain concentrate on the task all over again.
In addition to that, it messes with your hormone levels, keeping you high on cortisol (stress hormone) when you are waiting for the phone to beep and rewarding you with dopamine (happiness hormone) when a new notification arrives.
All of the above may not be noticeable from your perspective, but it eventually ends up and may lead to procrastination, anxiety, depression, and many more things that are bad for your health and result in even worse productivity.
Usually, when you don’t feel good, you don’t want to work and don’t care about being successful at all.
The trick to avoid all the negative effects of this is to stop worrying about missing out!
Seriously. It won’t.
You don’t have to be on alert every minute of your precious time when you can be calm and productive instead.
How being distracted by a smartphone affects your productivity
A psychologist Éilish Duke from London University investigated the link between smartphone usage in the workplace and its effects on your productivity levels.
Her study showed that the process of actively checking your phone notifications creates a constant distraction that keeps you from reaching the state of flow – the best state of your workflow when you are deeply concentrated on your task and the most productive.
Other research showed that it takes about 23-25 minutes to get back to this flow state after you got distracted. So, even if you only check your phone once in an hour (whereas average person does it every 18 minutes at work), it’s enough to keep you from ever getting into the state of flow.
Éilish also mentions that even brief three-seconds-long distraction breaks your concentration and leads to more errors throughout your current task. Which only takes more time from you to fix the issues later. That is if you don’t get distracted when checking for errors…
Do you think it’s worth it? Risking the quality of your work just to find out about new Instagram like or to read another email advertisement?
If your answer is “of course not“, read on to learn how to avoid it!
4 easy ways to minimize cell phone distractions in the workplace
Whether you have a policy regarding smartphone usage at work or you work for yourself, you are the only person who can really control your smartphone usage.
Don’t rely on anyone to stop you, incorporate some personal workplace etiquette that works for you and keeps your productive work going.
1. Let people know exactly when you are available
Allocate a few time blocks during your day for communication, and let everyone know that this is when they can call you or message you.
Ignore all the attempts to reach you outside that timeframe! Direct all the calls to your voicemail. Let them know you are serious about this and value your time, so everyone else values it too.
Use time-efficient tools like Doodle if someone wants to hop on a call with you. You can give anyone a link with a choice of several time windows that work for you, and the person books one of those that works for them too.
Avoid distracting back-and-force emails at all cost!
Doodle is also useful when you need to decide on a date for some event or time for a group call that works for most people. Just in a few clicks you create a poll, share it with everyone, and easily find a winner time for that event.
2. Turn on Do Not Disturb Mode
You may be using a DND mode for your sleeping hours already, but why not leverage the benefits of it for your working time as well?
It depends on your device manufacturer, but usually Do Not Disturb mode is highly customizable to your needs.
For example, here are some things you can set up on almost any smartphone:
Set it and forget it. It will automatically turn DND mode on and off according to your chosen time and skip the days on which you don’t need it to guard your time.
You may still need your alarms or calendar appointments to work, even when everything else is muted.
- Repeat callers.
This is a nice feature I always have on! If you choose to allow this, second call in a row from the same person will go through. People rarely call you twice unless it’s urgent, right?
- Favorite contacts.
If your boss or business partner needs you right now, you better not ignore it. The calls and/or messages from trusted contacts will not be muted.
- Visual notifications.
You are in full control here! Decide whether or not you want to see any notification icons on the lock screen. Turn off the LED indicator, so repeated blinking doesn’t take away your attention.
3. Turn off notifications from social apps
Out of all apps I’ve ever had, Facebook has the most distracting notification system.
It spams you with everything that happens related to your profile, making you jump back to the app again and again until you get lost scrolling through the feed. Again.
Many people may not know this, but you can actually customize all the settings: choose which notifications you need right away, which you can receive in bulk, and which you don’t need at all.
This works for any app you have, not only Facebook or anything social!
However, social applications contribute the most to your cell phone distractions in the workplace, and you risk your productivity a lot if you don’t manage them correctly.
You hardly want to be notified through the day about each post that comes up on every page you follow or every group you are part of. On the other hand, birthday reminders might actually be useful!
…Or you can do like I did and just turn it all off.
I did it a long time ago and never regretted it. I can open the app and check everything when I’m done with my main tasks for the day or consciously decide to have a break.
The choice is yours, but believe me when I say that it saves a ton of time you can put into your projects instead!
4. Put your cell phone away
According to psychiatrists, your cortisol level is constantly elevated when your cell phone is in your sight. The permanent feeling of anticipation and the indicator blinking in your field of vision both make your body want to grab and check your phone to make sure everything is alright.
To save yourself a lot of subconscious anxiety, you can just hide your phone from your eyes as long as you don’t need it for work.
That’s why I don’t keep it close to me when I work anymore.
If you can, take it to another room. If not, put it muted into your bag or desk drawer, so you at least don’t see it by your peripheral vision all the time.
Final thoughts on cell phone distractions in the workplace
Let’s sum up, shall we?
So, to save yourself from cellphone distractions, you can:
- Let others know your available timeframes
- Take advantage of Do Not Disturb mode
- Turn off social notifications you don’t need
- Put your smartphone far away
Have you read up to this point without looking at your smartphone? If so, congratulations, maybe you aren’t that addicted after all and your productivity doesn’t struggle! Unless you are reading this when you are supposed to work.
Otherwise, you might need to incorporate some of the mentioned techniques to improve your ability to focus on important tasks. The easiest way is to put your cell phone away: out of sight, out of mind.
Unless you need it for your current task, go and hide your phone in another room, or at least far enough that you don’t hear the notifications coming. I mean it, go and do this right now!
It works best for me when I need to minimize distractions and get my work done. By the way, the quality of your final work is usually noticeably better when you weren’t constantly distracted in the process!
On this note, I stop talking and let you go back to your work. I hope you learned some useful tricks and will have no more unwanted cell phone distractions in the workplace!
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