Stop Doing This To Be More Productive

Stop Doing This To Be More Productive

You’re knee-deep in your studies. You’re overly caffeinated. Yet, no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to stay focused.

The problem? It may be because you’re using your phone too much.

Steve Glaveski, author of Employee to Entrepreneur: How to Earn Your Freedom and Do Work That Matters, recently discussed in the Harvard Business Review why push notifications are ruining productivity.

“Push-notifications are sapping our ability to get into flow, to do our best work, and to leave the office feeling truly accomplished,” Glaveski writes. “Instead, we’re more likely to leave the office feeling like we’ve worked all day with little to show for it.”


Glaveski argues that what we call “multitasking” is actually “task-switching.”

According to a study by the University of California, Irvine, it can take humans 23 minutes after checking a notification to get back to work.

“When you consider that the average executive touches their phone 2,617 times a day, checks emails 74 times a day and receives 46 smartphone notifications a day, it’s likely that most executives never spend any time in flow at all,” Glaveski writes.

In fact, according to Psychology Today, switching between your phone and your work can add up to 40% productivity loss at the end of the day.

“This number might be higher if benchmarked against an executive who spends several hours a day in flow,” he writes.

On top of that, checking a notification, he says, is rarely just checking a notification.

“And what if you do follow that email notification? You visit your inbox, you respond to that email, and while you’re there, you notice and respond to several other emails,” he writes. “You bask in an accomplishment-driven dopamine hit and thirty minutes later, you remember that you were working on a more important and difficult piece of work that’s due by day’s end.”


Luckily, as humans, we don’t have to fall victim to our phones.

Here is a list of things, according to Glaveski, that you can do to minimize distractions and maximize productivity:

  • Disable all notifications on both your desktop and smartphone.
  • Turn off your phone or set it to Airplane mode for set periods of time.
  • Use the Freedom app to block non-mission critical applications (such as social media) for set periods of the day.
  • Use Google Chrome’s “compose email” plugin to see only the compose window when writing an email, which allows you to circumvent the temptations waiting in your inbox.
  • Set windows of time to check and batch-respond to email.
  • Use a Pomodoro timer to separate time for important work from the path-of-least-resistance work.
  • Use the Digital Wellbeing app (Android) or Apple’s Screen Time to track your screen time and scare yourself into submission (“I spent how many hours on Twitter yesterday?!”). Rescue Time will do the same thing for your desktop usage patterns.

Sources: Harvard Business Review, University of California, Irvine, Psychology Today

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