10 things you're doing on your phone that could undermine your success at work

  • The smartphone has given us instantaneous connection, access to limitless information, and can help keep our lives in order.
  • However, spending too much time on social media, constantly receiving notifications, and sleeping near your smartphone could be hurting your productivity more than you think.
  • Here are 10 smartphone habits that are ruining your productivity, according to experts.

It's hard to imagine a time where our phones weren't permanently attached to our hands. Many of us take these miniature computers pretty much everywhere and rely heavily on them for day-to-day tasks. But with so much opportunity to explore the internet and stay connected to loved ones 24/7, it's easy to get distracted, resulting in a loss of productivity.

"Productivity is often at its apex during a flow state," when a person is fully immersed in an activity, NYC-based psychotherapist Jordana Jacobs told Business Insider.

According to Jacobs, while phones are great for the technology they provide, they also feed into our natural distracted state. Cell phones take us out of the flow state, "which is so fundamental to productivity," she said. "Essentially, we are consistently interrupting our own thought process," she said. To put it simply, our phones "take us away from 'the now,'" she said.

It's probably not plausible for you to get rid of your phone completely, but you can still take steps to keep it from getting in the way of your goals.

The first step to being more productive is identifying all the ways our phones keep us from staying focused. Jacobs andJonathan Alpert, psychotherapist and author of "Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days," broke down the phone habits are ruining our productivity:

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10 ways your phone is messing up your productivity
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10 ways your phone is messing up your productivity

1. Reading, answering, and deleting emails

According to Jacobs, smartphones take us out of being in the present. When we're constantly checking those work and personal emails, she said it puts us in the mindset of, "I'm doing this rather than just being where I am now."

Mindlessly checking email can easily take us out of the flow state productivity requires.

2. Taking pictures

One of the perks of today's smartphones is that they double as high-quality cameras.

While it's great to want to take a picture here and there to have a keepsake of a particular moment, Jacobs said that playing paparazzi in our own lives is another way of taking us from living in the now.

3. Checking social media

Social media can feed our obsession with other people's lives , but Jacobs said it's also a platform for us to brag to our followers about what we are doing or have done.

She said that by constantly checking social media, we become obsessed with what everyone else is doing and with showing everyone else what we're doing at the expense of the actual task in front of us.

4. Texting

Jacobs said that texting and messaging other people has you more focused on what those people are currently doing, causing a distraction from anything productive that you should be doing.

5. Having our phones with us at all times

Jacobs said she believes that we have lost the capacity to be alone.

"We now think of the phone as our primary attachment figure; all of the people we know and love live in the phone, that's how we talk to them," she said. "We never actually have space by ourselves to contemplate, reflect, or gain insight into the self, in the way we used to be able to."

Knowing and growing ourselves is some of the most productive work we can do, and our phones can get in the way of it.

6. Downloading productivity apps

While Alpert does think that there are some productivity apps that can be helpful, he said he believes that relying solely on them or downloading the wrong one can actually do the opposite. According to him, the best way to stay productive is to have the right mindset.

"How someone thinks can significantly impact their behaviors, drive, and ultimately their output," he said. "People should feel encouraged that developing a go-getter mindset is possible."

7. Getting caught up with notifications

Do you ever find yourself immediately getting off track the moment your phone vibrates?

Alpert said many people do, and these notifications — whether it's a text message or news alert — can distract you from finishing whatever work you have started. He suggested shutting off social media notifications completely. "These merely serve as a distraction and probably don't contain anything urgent," he said.

8. Falling for distractions

With apps, the internet, and other features of smartphones, you can easily find yourself going down a deep rabbit hole of distraction.

"Rarely do people go online or on their phones and stick to the intended reason for checking their phones," he said. "If they're checking weather, that might then lead to checking email, messages, or reading a news story — all this serves as a gross distraction and impacts productivity."

9. Feeling that blue light

According to Alpert, the blue light that is emitted from devices can affect our sleep patterns.

"Blue light is thought to enter the brain through the eyes and impact the pineal gland. This gland plays a role in melatonin production, the hormone that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles," he said. "So device use close to bed could impact someone's ability to get proper rest."

This will have a profound effect on mood, energy levels, and ability to focus and complete tasks, he said.

10. Having all the answers

This one may not be expressly related to productivity, but it is still concerning.

Jacobs said we have lost our ability to wonder, because we can pretty much look up whatever need to; the answers to every burning question we may have are always right at our fingertips. "I think this truncates the creativity process and stunts our imaginations," she said.

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