How to *Actually* Stop Checking Your Phone at Work

Glued to your phone while at work? Checking your smartphone too regularly on the job comes at the price of killing your productivity.

While your intentions feel innocent, your sneak peeks at Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and other apps take up valuable time. The interruptions add more distraction to your plate, and task switching isn’t easy as you think — to resume a task, plan for several minutes to focus and get back in the groove.

You can break the habit, but it won’t be easy — one study found checkers peruse their smartphone an average of 80 times daily, or every 12 minutes. One in 10 people can’t even make it to five minutes without checking their phone, and millennials, of course, are the worst, with 150 checks each day.

Sound ridiculous? Also sound a bit like you? If you’re nodding along, get ready to break that bad habit for good and boost your focus.

 

Why Breaking the Habit Is So Hard

Why are people so obsessed with their phones? Is modern society truly filled with a bunch of narcissists these days? Maybe, but the truth comes down to the use of these devices for connection, to stay in the loop with loved ones.

The days grow increasingly limited as professionals fill their plates with more of everything, leaving hardly any time for a real connection. What is the price of convenience? How heavy does it feel at the end of the day when you fall into bed without saying much of substance to anyone? Your work performance suffers in ways you wouldn’t imagine, either.

Unplug to decrease stress by getting out of your head. Search for alternatives — take a walk or exercise for five minutes to release happy hormones. Grab a coworker and stroll around the perimeter of the building. Plus, you’ll get a chat in. Manage stress at your desk by eliminating distractions at the source and finding healthier behaviors to replace them.

Your annual review should amount to something beyond “checked every status and message right when it came in.” Though you can now account for every second of your life, but you don’t have to feel limited or confined. Cultivate healthier smartphone habits to stay in touch without obsessing about missing out.

 

Breaking Your Phone Addiction Will Hurt

Your fingers will itch. You will reach for the phone, only to pull away and then reach for it again a minute later. The cycle will continue, testing your resolve. Will you break?

You need to set a few boundaries for yourself to resist the hit of dopamine you get when you pick up your device. Here are seven effective tips to break your phone addiction at work, and yes, it will hurt.

 

1. Check Your Phone at Set Times

Limited for time? Check your phone during predetermined times only. Why not check your phone once every two hours, on the hour? Set times that work for you, and stick to them. People will know exactly when you will check your phone, but other methods may prove more effective if someone needs to reach you at any moment.
To a certain degree, you can blame your lack of self-discipline on biology. Before you get a new message, your brain’s anticipating a reward, and it’s more active then — not when you check it. That unpredictability keeps you on the edge of your chair to make sure you don’t miss out.

 

2. Stow Your Phone Away

You know what they say — out of sight, out of mind. Stow your phone away, so you won’t feel tempted to check it constantly.

Lock it in your desk drawer. Place it in a hard-to-reach place in your purse, across the room or in your glove compartment in the car. Hardcore addictions require drastic measures. At least you get up to move around and stretch if you give into temptation.

 

3. Log Out

You spend most of your life tuned in, so tune out the noise. Log out of your email, social media and unrelated work accounts.

 

4. Turn off Alerts

Depending on the device or settings, you will still get alerts on your home screen. Turn off alerts on your phone to give yourself relief. Only keep the most important alerts for your perusal.

 

5. Hide or Remove Apps

Even if you log out or turn off alerts, the visible icon still tempts you. Hide apps from yourself — it’s like hiding the chocolate or wine. You save a little surprise for yourself for later.

You can even download an app to change the icon of tempting apps to something boring-looking.

Here’s a better idea — remove “essential” apps altogether. Put as many steps between you and the offending app as possible. Make yourself log into Facebook or Twitter manually, and hide the Internet app deep in the trenches of your phone.

 

6. Block Yourself

When desperate times call for desperate measures, download an app, like Anti-Social or SelfControl, that will block you out of social media and other apps altogether. Just like certain apps keep you from drunk-dialing an ex, productivity apps will keep you from obsessively checking Facebook.

 

7. Set Phone to Do Not Disturb

In your settings, select the “do-not-disturb” mode, which allows only certain callers to get in touch with you. The settings may indicate to only receive calls or texts from those in your contact list, or ones you specify when you whitelist or blacklist them. You can also select to only receive calls and texts during certain hours, ensuring better quality shut-eye and work performance.

Why not approach your team and suggest trying to break the phone addiction habit together? Support systems go a long way to making positive progress.

While your phone helps keep you connected to the world, it also serves as a distraction when you spend too much time checking for every little alert or message. Do more with your time and learn to appreciate it more, minus the attachment of a device.

Subscribe to Punched Clocks for more tips on reducing distractions and giving your work your all. Keep the conversation going by commenting and sharing.


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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