The Journal of Experimental Psychology recently published the results of an interesting study. The study had subjects work on a test with their cell phones nearby and instructed not to interact with their phones. The study found that when a call or text message came in, test subjects would do poorly for several minutes after seeing the notification. The study concluded that even when one does not directly interact with their phone, the notification would cause distractions. Their mind would spend time wondering who called or messaged and what they may have missed. Although the distraction itself is only a second or two, it takes our minds several minutes to return to full concentration on the task at hand. This is not the only way our phone addiction kills productivity.
1. You are always "at work." Think about it. You know you can answer a message in the middle of the night or while at dinner or whenever. This enables you to produce less work during the time you are at your workplace. You slow down and have much more moments of no productivity than you should.
2. Your memory becomes impaired. Today's world has all the information we need in an instant with the help of Google and smart phones. Before this, our minds had to remember relevant information we needed to conduct our daily business. Having all information we need on our phones, our brains have become trained to retain less. Although it only takes a moment to look something up, this moment can break our concentration and add up to many hours throughout the week.
3. You are constantly multitasking. While it seems that being able to do several things at once makes you more productive, it has the opposite effect. Your brain has only so much attention to give. When spreading your attention over several tasks, each task receives only a fraction of the attention needed to work swiftly and efficiently. You end up getting less done over the course of the day as your brain tries to keep up with different directions.
4. Your attention span is decreasing. With information being so available, our minds have become used to having a feed of new, fresh info. Over time, the ability to completely focus for an extended period becomes impossible. With losing this ability to focus, tasks that take an extended amounts time become challenging. This leads to decreases in productivity.
5. Need for connection. There was a time when a person was at work outside contacts didn't interfere, except in cases of emergencies. Now, we have become so used to everyone we know being a button or two away. There is a constant need to check and see what people are doing. Many have a fear of missing the newest headline update. This desire for connections has lead to lost productivity. We are always checking emails, news reports, and even weather reports to try to stay connected to the newest information.
The brain consists of thousands of neural pathways that help memory, concentration, and other functions. The less we use a particular channel, the weaker that connection becomes. Eventually, these connections become dormant. This makes it impossible to be effective at doing tasks that once were automatic. Having our phone so readily available weakens memory functions and decreases productivity. We waste so many minutes relying on our phones. We should use this time to re-examine the effectiveness and ineffectiveness smartphones play in our daily lives.