It’s not a secret that we spend too much time on our phones, sitting in front of the computer or television, or just looking at screens in general. You don’t have to go out of your way to find commentary on the subject. What you might find interesting is that there have been an increasing number of studies that have consistently shown that the amount of notifications a person receives is directly related to their productivity; or, lack thereof.
Research from the University of California at Irvine found it took a whopping 23 minutes to return to a single task after a notification came in on a person’s smartphone. What’s more troubling is that people only average about 47 seconds before they return to their mobile device. This means that people, on average, check their mobile devices nearly 600 times in an eight-hour workday. They also found that since it takes time to recover from notifications, the more notifications a person receives during the day, the more errors they made and the more stress it causes on workers.
The number of notifications people receive aren’t going down. In fact, with many people still working remotely, the number has risen precipitously. Apple and Google, the two companies that fuel most modern smartphones, have tried to help users manage their notifications. Apple has instituted its Screen Time feature, while Android has its Digital Wellbeing tool. These apps are designed to (ironically) notify users on how much time they spend in each app and report how many notifications they receive. They can then set daily limits and set timeframes in which they don’t want to receive notifications to help them be more productive and less distracted.
For those that aren’t great at managing this, there are hardware options. There are phones available today that take a lot of the applications out of the picture. Remember the flip phones from the late ‘90s and early 2000s? No. Well, they function a lot like those mobile options used to.
One of these phones called The Light Phone, just provides SMS and calling features in a very simple form factor. It’s an elegant solution to the problem, but for many people, especially people that spent $1,000 or so on their smartphone, buying a less smartphone isn’t really in the cards.
More affordable options have come in the way of applications. App developers have come up with productivity-enhancing apps that have been constructed to allow for what is being called “deep work”. One deep work application called Medium actively promotes the limiting of notifications and gives users a respite from the world around them to get more meaningful work done. Other apps such as Seque, Shift, and Asana give users options to control their productivity platforms so that they can reduce workplace stress and control their schedules better.
What do you think? Do you spend too much time staring at your phone when you could be more productive? Do you feel like the constant flow of notifications is holding your career back? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and return to our blog soon for more great technology-related content.