A recent study lead by Kostadin Kushlev of the University of Virginia showed that the rise in smartphones and thus the increasing frequency of constant notifications fighting for our attention are causing an increase in inattention and hyperactivity, symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Participants reported higher levels of inattention and hyperactivity when alerts were on than when alerts were off. Higher levels of inattention in turn predicted lower productivity and psychological well- being.
How often do you look at your smartphones during the day?
A study conducted by researcher Dr Sally Andrews of the Nottingham Trent University showed that people check their smartphone around 85 times a day for a total of five hours during a day!
This means that 1/3 of the time we’re awake, we’re staring at a phone screen!
The problem however seems to be another one.
Out of the 85 times we’re looking at our phone, more than half of those interactions are shorter than 30 seconds.
We’re constantly checking and checking and checking…but why?
It’s called FOMO (Fear of missing out). We check our phones out of pure habit: someone might have written us a super important message and maybe we didn’t hear it (although all the notifications are turned on).
But don’t think that muting notifications is solving the problem. Muting notifications can lead to anxiety and an increase of FOMO thus the compulsive checking of your phone might even become more frequent.
A study showed that muting notifications while work had a positive impact on productivity but the same positive impact is not true with muted notifications outside of work.
Now let’s be honest: we somehow like being distracted.
Most of the time the possible distraction is more exciting than the work we have to do. We definitely want to read the nice text message from our friend, look at the lovely picture on Instagram or watch that hilarious video on Youtube. We love to be entertained.
When we’re checking our phones we’re not looking to be stressed out by a reminder of an upcoming deadline or something annoying. No, we want to see if somebody is thinking of us or if something can enlighten our day.
Some 16 years ago, before having a phone started to be mainstream, there were no such thing. Having all those notifications popping up in front of you, is like having the Chocolate bar right in front of us. All those notifications are just screaming at you for your attention. and of course, sooner or later you’ll fall into temptation!
However there seems to be an easy solution.
According to researchers, the best way to deal with this is to simply put your smartphone away where you can’t see it, like in a bag or a backpack. This way you eliminate the trigger (seeing your phone) and if you still feel like you urgently need to check your phone, the way of doing so is much more laborious.
If you still can’t separate yourself from your device, here are some things you should make sure to tweak in order to mute notifications and to secure, hopefully, some distraction–free time while working.
1. Disable App Notifications
Go into the Notification settings of your phone and disable all the apps which keep sending you notifications you don’t need.
2. Set your Phone to “Do Not Disturb”
This will automatically mute all notifications. You can schedule from when to when your “Do Not Disturb” mode is active and also whose calls are allowed to come through. Perfect to keep you reassured that if something important happens you will get the call.
3. Enter Airplane Mode
Muting notification will still show them on the screen so entering “Airplane Mode” is the best way to cut yourself off the web for a little while :)