Notifications Ruin Your Focus


You have your phone set to vibrate when you need to focus.


That vibrating phone is exactly as distracting as actually talking on said phone, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.


In the first part of the study, all participants simply had to work on a computer problem designed to require their full attention. For the second part, participants were unknowingly divided into three groups: call, text, or no notification. The participants had to work on a similar computer problem while the researchers then sent automated calls or texts to the personal devices of the participants, without said participants knowledge.


As you’d expect, those receiving notifications did worse on their second problem when compared to their first. However, just how worse was staggering: there was a more than three times greater chance of making a mistake when receiving a notification. And the type of notification—call or text—didn’t matter at all. The phone making any kind of signal, be it vibration, noise, or visual cue, made all the difference.

The Takeaway

When you’re doing something important—say, driving—turn your phone silent or off. According to researchers, “Cellular phone notifications alone significantly disrupt performance on an attention-demanding task, even when participants do not directly interact with a mobile device during the task.”



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