If you’re reading this, then you’re aware of how trained you’ve become to the sound and feel each of your devices.
I’m sometimes guilty of looking at my screen when I feel it buzz. But I know how that screen can derail my day, increase my stress, and prevent me from being fully present. So I’ve started putting the following 7 practices in place to control my own time, rather than be reactive to the agendas of others.
How to Stop Being Distracted By Your Phone (7 Helpful Tips)
1. Don't carry your phone in your pocket.
Put it in your handbag, backpack, or workbag during any commutes. If it’s in your pocket, you’ll hear every ding, feel every buzz, and you’ll be tempted to check it every time.
2. Turn off notifications.
This can be really hard for some people due to FOMO, but here’s the deal: Research has shown that:
In other words, just hearing your phone buzz, or your laptop ding, or a little red ‘1’ pop up next to your email icon distracts you and reduces your productivity. That’s because of something called “switch cost”, which refers to the cost that notifications have on our attention. Even if we don’t look at the text or email that came in, our minds are distracted by thoughts of what could be in those messages.
You might argue, though, that your workplace runs on Slack or Telegram (or other platform), and that you must “be there” at all times so you’re never the bottleneck.
The thing is, if you’re constantly checking and responding to others, how much of your own, real, work are you actually getting done? Only you can answer that, but you may want to try practice tip #3:
3. Check your notifications at set intervals.
Some people choose to check their notifications at set times during the day, others at various intervals. Do what works best for you; just make sure that you have some uninterrupted time to do deep work with short breaks during your day, so that you can meet your weekly goals.
4. Leave it behind.
We’ll likely never leave our phones, tablets or laptops behind when we leave our homes or offices (at least, not on purpose) because these are our links to our families and colleagues, and for safety’s sake, we need a way to communicate when we’re out.
What we can train ourselves to do is to leave the devices in another room as we tend to other things within our homes or workplaces.
How many times have we told our kids to put away their phones while at the table because we want them to be fully there with us to have conversations over dinner? The same applies to us, if we really want to be present no matter what we’re in the midst of doing.
Do you really need to have the phone on your person while you’re going out to check the mail, or taking out the garbage?
5. Train yourself not to expect immediate feedback.
Our brains are constantly changing in response to what they are exposed to. If you instantly cave in to your craving for a bag of chips at 10am every day, your brain reinforces he pathways for that action, creating a pattern that is difficult to break.
Now let’s say that in your quest to never be the bottleneck at work, you respond to all messages from your colleagues and boss as soon as you see the notification pop up. Of course, you expect the same kind of quick response from others. If that doesn’t happen, your anxiety levels rise, as does your anger and resentment.
Essentially, you’ve created pathways to respond immediately to notifications or messages. In fact, I would argue that perhaps you actually receive a hit of dopamine with the satisfaction and instant gratification of responding to those messages instantly – and thus clearing out your inbox.
Before long, you start to experience a dopamine surge long before you actually even look at the messages coming in, and so the craving to check your messages and to respond right away, no matter
what else you may be doing at the time, also hits you early and powerfully, maybe even just by thinking your phone is buzzing, or by light reflecting off your laptop screen.
To break these productivity-attacking patterns, you need to train yourself out of them. Be conscious of the toll that being constantly “on-call” can take on not only your productivity, but also your mood, your interactions with others, and your stress levels.
6. Turn it off.
You can’t beat the simplicity of turning off your phone, laptop, or tablet so you can focus on something else.
7. Use a watch.
A simple, $10 watch will tell you the time without distraction.
It is possible to stop being distracted by your phone so that you can be more focused and present in whatever you’re doing at the moment. Try the 7 tips above, and let me know how they work for you!
How to Stop Being Distracted by Your Phone (7 Helpful Tips)
- Don’t carry your phone in your pocket
- Turn off notifications
- Check your notifications at set intervals
- Leave it behind
- Train yourself not to expect immediate feedback
- Turn it off
- Use a watch