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Is Your Phone Affecting Your Productivity Levels?

Is Your Phone Affecting Your Productivity Levels?

Feeling unfocused? Your phone may be to blame.

In The Big Bang Theory, Mrs. Wolowitz (Carol Ann Susi) is her own wide-area network. Take this exchange, shouted from a corner of the house we never see: “Howard, it's the phone.” Howard: “I know it's the phone, Ma. I can hear the phone.” Mrs. Wolowitz: “Well who's calling at this ungodly hour?” Howard: “I don't know.” Mrs. Wolowitz: “Well ask them why they're calling at this ungodly hour.” Howard: “How can I ask them when I'm talking to you?”

That kind of phone notification can melt the brain circuits of even the most devoted child. But it turns out phone notifications of all kinds—buzzes, vibrations, melodious jingles and rings—are brain-erasing as well. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance found that if you’re trying to focus on a task and your phone notifies you of an incoming message, it doesn’t matter if you respond or ignore it. Either way, it breaks your concentration and lowers your ability to think clearly.

Dr. Mike’s Cleveland Clinic advises you take notice of this study and take steps to protect your brain power:

  • When concentrating, turn off all notifications, or better yet, turn off your phone.
  • Learn to leave your phone at home once in a while—it’s not a puppy that needs to be walked!
  • Build focus and concentration by practicing mindful meditation 10 minutes daily. Download the Clinic’s free Stress-Free Now iOS app at the AppStore or Insight Timer, free for Android at the Google Play Store. Also check out meditation streaming options on the Sharecare app for iOS and Android.

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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