Phone notifications are a necessary evil in our always-connected, work-from-anywhere world. But all too often, they can be a major distraction, pulling us away from our tasks and goals

In this article post, we’ll explore why notifications can be so distracting and offer some tips for managing them effectively at work. Stay focused and productive with these helpful strategies.

Why do phone notifications distract us?

Researchers have found that the mere presence of our devices can impair cognitive ability, even when they aren’t actively being used. An old study by Dr Glenn Wilson at London’s Institute of Psychology found a link between persistent interruptions at work and a drop in IQ. And Sophie Leroy from the University of Washington told Harvard Business Review: “As I am still thinking about Task A while trying to do Task B, I don’t have the cognitive capacity to process these two tasks at the same time and do a perfect job on both.”

The constant flurry of notifications on our phones and computers can be difficult to ignore, resulting in a constant interruption of our focus and attention, as described above. Often, phone notifications appear in red, a colour associated with urgency. The uncertainty of what we might read if we open the notification can also lead to distraction, as we theorise what it might be.

44% of respondants said they never fully switch off

The fear of missing out, or FOMO, may drive us to constantly check for new phone notifications, leading to a cycle of distraction and diminished productivity. In a recent survey, 63% of respondents said they regularly check emails outside of working hours, while 44% said they never fully switch off. These interruptions also make it harder for us to relax or disengage from work, leading to decreased levels of rest and mental well-being.

How can we manage notifications at work?

You are expected to communicate at work. Fortunately, there are strategies you can put in place to get your phone notifications back to more manageable levels while still doing your job properly and efficiently. Let’s look at some of them below.

Ask your boss to clarify what’s expected of you in terms of communication

Are different methods of communication used for different scenarios? How quickly do you need to respond? At what times should you respond? Once you know, you can turn off any unnecessary phone notifications that will interrupt the flow of your work. This should result in greater concentration and fewer mistakes, which is a win for both you and your company.

Set up a do-not-disturb schedule

Make it clear when you’re available and when you’re unavailable. Having a set start and end to your working day, if possible, can be hugely motivating. You’ll know you have a specific window of time to get things done, and your co-workers will know that’s the time they can get in touch with you.

Set specific times for checking them

You’re less likely to get distracted by notifications if you know you’ll be checking them at a set time, allowing you to focus on the task at hand and preventing continuous interruptions.

By following these tips, we can help reduce the amount of time we spend distracted by notifications and increase our focus on work tasks.


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