Distraction: The Biggest Barrier to High Performance and Productivity
How do you get focused?
Research says, “Put your phone in a different room.” You know in your soul that your smart phone is distracting, but you keep it around anyway, even when you need to focus and concentrate.
Recent research validates your feelings and underscores the proximity of your mobile phone counts. A recent article, “How Smart-phones Hijack Our Minds,” hammers the point home providing several research studies.
The Effects of Cell Phone Distraction on Students
On tasks requiring focus and “ability to interpret and solve an unfamiliar problem,” college students’ scores varied, depending on the distance they were from their phones. When the phone was in view, the score was worse than when the phone was in a different room.
During interviews, the students reported that they were unaware of the impact of the phone locations. Whether on a desk or in their pockets, students didn’t feel the phone was a distraction or impairment to their focus. How aware are you of your poor focus when your phone is on your desk or in your pocket?
The Effects of Cell Phone Distraction on Adults
As a leader or professional, parent or teacher, you might say, “That’s research about students. Adults are different.” Unfortunately, that is not the case.
In Distraction: an assessment of smart phone usage in health care work settings and other pertinent articles clearly show the disastrous effects distraction has on productivity in work settings vs. keeping focused attention.
Regardless of motivation or intellect, smart-phone users need to understand that just the proximity of one’s phone undermines focus and problem solving.
3 Simple Solutions to Increase Your Attention and Productivity
In terms of effective smart-phone management, whatever sounds simple may be hard to implement. However, here are 3 starting points that will help:
- Put the phone away for special tasks that require focus and concentration. (Leave it on silent so the sound of a text coming in won’t make you curious and interrupt flow).
- Alert others of your goal and discuss ways to develop quiet focus times in your division or for your team and yourself.
- At work or home establish No Phone/Quiet Zones.
You may even consider discussing with your team, the benefits of everyone dropping off their silenced phone into a common basket when they come in each day, which they can retrieve for lunch break and when they leave for the day. Unless required for communication with other staff in the field, this can impact productivity in the office in a big way.
Is there proof that better management of phone-related distractions has a positive effect on performance, motivation, and energy? Indeed there is, and here are some examples:
- Rhonda, an actuary, completed her reports more quickly when she left her phone in an adjacent room. She alerted coworkers that she’d be in the quiet room and unavailable for certain periods.
- Tim, a high school senior, discovered his practice scores on college admissions test were higher when his phone was in the other room. He was surprised and delighted.
- The Morton family decided to charge all digital devices in the kitchen before going to bed. Parents and teens reported better sleep and more energy. No more falling asleep with the phone on the pillow.
Smart-phones are the most talked about digital distraction, but computers, tablets, smart-watches share the distraction spotlight. Like other informative and entertaining devices, smart-phones need to be regulated when focus and concentration is required at work or home.
While there is no doubt that distraction is a big barrier to high performance and productivity. Distractions aren’t limited to technology and solving the interruptions to your focus and attention requires persistence and strategies.
You’ll find more information and strategies in my most recent book, “Actions Against Distractions: Managing Your Scattered, Disorganized, and Forgetful Mind” or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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