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Advice for the Device Dependent

Posted on June 7, 2017
How to deal with device distractions

We all seem to have a love/hate relationship with our cell phones and other devices. Familiar and unique ring tones often interrupt meetings, followed by a quick, “Oh, I’m sorry.” Every so often, there is the person who can’t seem to find the phone as everyone in the meeting waits in limbo.

According to, Deloitte found that Americans look at their respective cell phones eight billion (yes, that is a billion) times per day. That translates to roughly 46 times per day (average) for each of us. This rate is up almost 30% from the previous year. And, since this is an average, it means a number of us are checking far more than 46 times per day.

There are a couple of important side effects of this dependency. The first is a loss of productivity. Martha C. White of Money Magazine cites a number of studies in her article, “Your Cell Phone Is Killing Your Productivity, but Not for the Reason You Think,” all of which point to the fact that that familiar ring or vibration — even if we don’t check the notification or the text — “is enough to derail you.” The researchers she cited stated, “Mobile phones can disrupt attention performance even if one does not interact with the device.”

The second side-effect is the lack of down time. When we are constantly attached to our cell phones, iPads, or other device, it means we are attached to the latest breaking news, email, and texts. There is little to no time for our brains to slow down and relax. If we are constantly tied to work, how can we ever take a break or reboot?

We can’t.

The constant connection results in lower motivation and lower productivity. Think about it: Employees are encouraged, even forced, to take vacation so they can get down time, regroup, and have a break from the daily requirements of their position. The idea is that this break allows them to return re-energized. The same should be true for our various devices. We need to disconnect, disengage, and let our brains rest.

So try this — turn off notifications and put your phone in your desk when you need to concentrate. tThe old “out of sight, out of mind” mentality still applies. See how much more productive you can be and how much better you might feel.

Turning my phone off now. What about you?


Anne Converse Willkomm
Director of Graduate Studies
Goodwin College
Drexel University

Posted in interpersonal-communications, professional-development-career-tips