Hide Your Phone When You’re Trying to Work

I checked my phone 2x during the time it took me to read this NYTimes article about how your phone is cognitively distracting you from working. The article references a study from 2017 that shows, “mere presence of your phone — even if it’s powered off, and even if you’re actively and successfully ignoring it — “reduces available cognitive capacity,” which the study’s authors call “brain drain.”


As our phones become our clocks, schedulers, weight trackers, family managers it is harder than ever to truly disconnect. In fact, the author actually went to the lengths of locking his phone in a drawer so he would not be distracted from his task. What can we do to help ourselves focus and work more productively?


  • Awareness: realize that your phone is designed to distract you and is calling to you. If you know this you can fight it the urge to check more easily.
  • Lock it away– leave your phone somewhere else for a set period of time that you will work uninterrupted and don’t sneak! It can take a half hour to get your concentration back once broken.
  • Don’t bring phones to meetings. Even if it is turned over on your desk it is still there chirping and buzzing away. If possible take notes longhand and leave your laptop on your desk.


Okay, sounds good right? Easier said than done but it’s a good place to start. Oh, and don’t forget to take off that watch!