Hold the phone! For better concentration, leave yours off.
It’s time to reclaim your brain! Yes, texting with far-flung friends and family is comforting, and having a good camera at your fingertips is amazing. But your smartphone is not doing your ability to focus any favors. Recent research on college students using phones during lectures confirms the harm they do to concentration, staying engaged, and critical thinking. Another recent study showed that notifications (the sounds your smartphone makes to alert you to messages or news) break your focus and impair performance even if you don’t pick up your phone. It’s time to show your phone who’s boss and recover your brain power with these strategies. Say no to rings and dings. Turn on notifications only for urgent messages. When you’re doing something that requires focus (that includes dinner with a friend!), turn off your ringer — or turn off your phone. Track your time. Americans spend more than three hours a day on their phones on average. To do a reality check, track the time you spend on your phone (you can use an app to help you accomplish this). Did it surprise you? Are there other things you’d like to be doing with that time? Leave it home. Your cell phone isn’t a puppy, and doesn’t yearn to accompany you on every walk and errand. Ask yourself if you really need to have it with you, and if you don’t, leave it home. You might feel “itchy” without your phone at first, and then downright liberated. Meditate. Mindfulness meditation, in which you pay attention to what’s happening in the present, can counteract the effects of digital overload. Stick with meditation, and your attention “muscle” will grow.