It’s the start of the day and you’re making coffee for yourself, sitting on the chair that you usually sit on in the morning. It is a beautiful morning, one that makes you want to make something out of the day. Procrastination is out of the question. Your workload is too much for that.
With all the right intentions, you sit in front of your laptop just waiting for it to switch on so that you can do all the work that has been delayed for so many weeks. Without a second thought, you start scrolling through your phones, idly thumbing through various social media accounts to see what the latest news is, see through your inbox, text-back unread messages, you get the picture.
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Best Ways To Get Rid of Distractions Smartphones and Internet
However, before you realise it, your laptop has been turned on for the past 5 minutes and all you did was fill in your morning quota of media consumption, at this point your laptop is practically begging for you to at least input the password. No matter what happens, you cannot seem to put your phone down, and the idea of working suddenly has become a secondary priority.
15 minutes have passed and you are currently watching your second Youtube video, or have liked a dozen of your friends’ posts on Instagram. The usage of a smartphone entails with it several other effects which will not be apparent at first, one of which is how easily addicted one can be when they get a taste of entertainment and media-surfing.
No longer does the thought of working on your projects even penetrate through the veil of procrastination that you have been shrouded within – one that was facilitated by your smartphone usage. Sounds familiar? I know, I had the same reaction.
Smartphones & Distraction: A Research-Oriented Approach to Procrastination
Just to give you a glimpse of how powerful a smartphone is in terms of its ability to get you distracted (and keep you distracted), here is a statistic picked from an analytics firm called Flurry. The statistic claims that the time spent on apps is increasingly becoming concerning – app-usage has increased by 69% between 2015 to 2016. Furthermore, to put matters into perspective, Global Web Index says has put out a report stating that people on average spend 2 hours surfing on their mobile phones – which is a lot of time if you really think about it.
A more detailed survey by Tata Communications revealed that on average, people tend to spend 5 hours a day on electronic gadgets, especially their smartphones. The same survey also showed that 64% of people are prone to experiencing bouts of anxiety if they do not have access to their smartphones. Moreover, Kaiser Family Foundation made an accurate representation of how harmful smartphones are. Young children, as early as 8 years old to adolescence (17 or 18 years), are exposed to a lengthy period of screen-time (anywhere between 5 to 7 hours).
Furthermore, The Journal of The Association for Consumer Research published a study by the University of Texas at Austin found that a phone manages to affect us humans at such a subconscious level that it tends to sap our energy and attention even when we do not use it. Participants in the study were divided into focus groups, ones who had their phones silent and in the same room as them, while giving a test, others who had their phones switched off and tucked away in another room.
The ones who had their phones silent but in the same room as them while they were giving the test underperformed in it as compared to their counterparts, who had placed their phones in an entirely different room. The research report claims that smartphones are like our names, they have privileged attentional space, which is essentially how attached you are to something that even mentioning it / the presence of it psychologically impacts you and takes your attention away. The study showed this by giving an example of how even hearing a word that resembles your name during the middle of a conversation in a group immediately takes all of your attention.
Do you see how harmful smartphone devices can be in terms of inculcating habits within us that end up driving us away from addressing and genuinely working on the tasks we have?
Smartphones and Procrastination go Hand
As the studies above suggest, researchers and various other types of empirical data analysts have found that smartphones (and their apps) and procrastination have a very strong correlation. While most individuals would argue on the contrary using excuses such as exposure to smartphones and laptops is an essential aspect of an individual’s educational background in a technologically advancing world. Imagine surviving a day without the internet and your smartphone. Even the act of texting, which a plethora of studies have linked with a release of neurochemicals such as dopamine, is a necessary part of your life. Networking, reaching out to old friends, emailers to employers/hirers, etc. fall on the positive side of using technologies such as laptops and smartphones.
However, the problem arises with the rate of consumption of screen time. It is sometimes practically impossible to spend an hour on your laptop working on a project or a research paper without attending to texts or seeing what your friends are upto. Moreover, we are at a point in life where even the sight of digital electronics reminds us of the vast potential of entertainment that is simply shimmering on the black screen of your mobile phone or your laptop screen.
To be ignorant to the issues of procrastination that arise when one spends too much for their time on their smartphone, or even their laptops, is equivalent to not caring about spending time on the tasks which actually demand your attention and time. Most often than not, what people don’t realise is that the cumulative amount of time they spend on their smartphones could instead be spent elsewhere. This one of the main reasons for why procrastination is such a huge emerging issue in our generation, and it is of course an issue worth exploring and overcoming through disciplined actions, habits, critical thinking, logical reasoning, etc.
The Negative Effects of Being Distracted Constantly
To put things into perspective, imagine that you are a well-established lawyer who needs to invest his time and money into paperwork, drafting of legal documentation for clients, consultation hours with clients, meetings, etc. you get the gist of it. The negative side-effects of constantly being on your smartphone never reveal themselves until it’s too late; when your paperwork keeps piling on and you no longer remember or even know where to begin with. I would go so far as to say that smart-phone distraction is an epidemic which has swept over the world completely, affecting interpersonal relationships, family life, lifestyle, business communications, productivity, innovation, attitudes, and even to some extent, your mental health.
A very famous research-centric book by MIT Professor Sherry Turkle, published in 2015, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, explores the negative connotations attached to smartphone usage and what long-term impacts it may carry alongside with it. This book, along with its research consisting of primary sources like interviews and new articles, establishes that smartphones have a subliminal effect on us. Like the research cited from University of Texas’s The Journal of The Association for Consumer Research, this book also shows that when smartphones are turned off they have a psychological effect on us and manages to distract us.
Taking into account the above-mentioned, I hope you now understand just how dangerous your smartphone usage is. It might seem like it is a very trivial amount of time spent ‘catching up’ with the rest of the world and/or entertaining yourself, however you can truly never grasp how much it distracts you from your job or your homework unless you take into account all the small ways in which it inhibits you from potentially being your best version. E.g. According to University of Nottingham Trent, people who do not use smartphones are most likely going to be 26% more productive when working on a task.
Read the following points on how to be more productive at work.
Be Your Best Version: Stop Being Distracted
Being your best version, or at least taking care of how much media consumption you take in on a daily basis, is not going to be easy until you address the fact that smartphones are highly toxic in their own way. Read the following points on how to get rid of, or limit your smartphone usage:
1. Stop Idle Surfing on the Internet
Idle surfing on the internet includes going through websites that do not offer any tangible solutions to your problems or your work. The act of surfing on the internet itself is thought to be the very definition of entertainment, since the internet is so vast that going through it at one time could easily overwhelm you. If you are idly just searching for entertainment on the internet, you will soon find that you are reading, or watching, something that is not applicable to you or your tasks. Don’t get me wrong, internet usage is one of the best recreational activities one can involve themselves in to be entertained or to simply relax. It only assumes a negative effect after you keep using it for a prolonged period of time. Therefore, use the internet sparingly, and only go on it after you are done with your work, not before.
2. Capping Social Media
One of the most pertinent topics to address is the use of social media. This is because social media usage has not only been linked to distractions and less problem-solving attitudes (procrastination), it is also linked with statistics that display social media as a major factor as to why so many teens and young adults are experiencing mental illnesses such as depression and ADHD. Limiting the amount of time you spend going through social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. is one of the sure-shot ways of being less distracted at work. Do this by disciplining your work-ethic and your habits – their results will later manifest themselves as the reward you will get for doing your task, or your job, right.
3. Digital Garbage and Ads
Disable cookies to get rid of digital garbage like fake google chrome extensions or ads. Many people have not truly assessed the impact ads have on their minds. Adverts, infomercials, etc. are one of the most, if not the most, distracting aspects of using your phone. Imagine watching a video and being stumped by an ad, which later gets you attracted to it because of the way in which the service or product is marketed; managing to catch your eye. Pay heed to your ads and start blocking some (at least disable cookies) in order to control the digital garbage that usually tends to flood your notifications.
The Ugly Truth: Conclusion
The ugly truth of smartphone usage is that it is so addicting that we do not even realise what is going on behind the scenes. Smartphones sold by big MNCs, and various digital entertainment-related companies, are the real problem. People who use smartphones end being distracted and have an increase in levels of procrastination in exchange for the profit these companies reap. That is something to think about and really assess whether your smartphone use is doing you good or if it is actually hindering you from achieving all that you have set out to be.