How to stop your phone from constantly distracting you

  • TECH
  • Saturday, 07 Sep 2019

Due to permanent interruptions from smartphones, the length of the work units in which we can work away at something deeply has shrunk considerably, according to psychology researchers. — dpa

In little more than a decade, the smartphone has penetrated all areas of life, including the workplace.

The border between work life and private life has blurred and not just because bosses sometimes send emails or texts after the working day has ended. It's also because employees spent so much time on their phones while working.

"This fragmentation of everyday life leads to lack of productivity," says psychology professor Christian Montag, who researches the issue at the University of Ulm in Germany.

"Due to permanent interruptions, the length of the work units in which we can work away at something deeply has shrunk considerably," he says.

On average, people spend around two and a half hours a day on their smartphones – of course this doesn't all take place during working hours. "Most of the time they're on Facebook, Instagram and other social media," Montag says.

They're triggered to do so by the fear of missing out – FOMO. To prevent this fear from arising, it makes sense to set time limits on your smartphone use in the office.

Organisational consultant Gabriele Thies advises that you should only check private emails and messages at certain times of the day, for example in the morning and in the afternoon.

You should only answer messages immediately if it is really necessary, otherwise leave them till later, she says.

Thies recommend switching off all smartphone notifications when you're at work: tones as well as push messages. It's best to leave the phone face down on your desk or in your pocket. If possible, it should be turned off.

People you communicate with in the work environment can be asked "to communicate primarily via the business landline number or email," Thies says, and family and friends told that they shouldn't contact you during working hours except in emergencies.

Employees should not send messages themselves either, as "then there will be fewer responses during working hours," Thies says. – dpa

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