If I asked you what the #1 distraction is in the workplace, what would you say it is?
But, I recently found that there’s something else that’s even more distracting than those things.
It’s the dreaded cell phone.
I am used to keeping my phone in my pocket during the day, but recently, I found myself tossing it on my desk instead. Initially, I started doing this so I did not need to fish it out of my pocket every time it buzzed. I thought that keeping my cell phone on my desk would actually increase my productivity.
But, it had the opposite effect.
The problem was it turned into a huge distraction. I found myself glancing over at it routinely throughout the day, even when it didn’t buzz. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss one of those “silent notifications”, I guess.
And when it did buzz, you can bet that I dropped what I was doing to check the notification.
It was distracting the hell out of me.
Here’s the biggest problem with being distracted: it takes most of us more than 20 minutes to re-focus on a task after being distracted from it, according to a study by the University of California.
“You have to completely shift your thinking,” the study’s lead researcher Gloria Mark told Fast Company. “It takes you a while to get into it and it takes you a while to get back and remember where you were…We found about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here’s the bad news — it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.”
Distractions cost employers money when their staff is not keenly focused on their tasks. And, distractions happen all the time.
For many of us, our cell phones are a big reason why we get distracted during the day.
The average person looks at their phone 52 times a day, and I think that I exceeded that amount when my phone was visible on my desk rather than in my pocket.
The statistics on smartphone use are downright amazing:
- Over 3 billion people worldwide use a smartphone.
- 80% of the North American population use text messaging.
- The average iPhone user unlocks their phone 80 times a day.
- Consumers spend more time on their smartphones than watching TV.
Clearly, our phones are a big part of who we are. But, they also have a way of consuming our entire lives if we are not careful about how we use them.
“The brain’s craving for constant stimulation and immediate gratification creates something called a compulsion loop,” writes journalist Thomas Oppong.
“The sight and sound of notifications are draining us. Push-notifications are sapping our energy, our ability to get into the flow and robbing us of our best work.”
The moral of this story? If you need to get work done, remove distractions. And, that very often means starting with our cell phones.