Is Your Brain Being Drained By Your Phone?

Every week I have clients that complain of not being able to do work. The first reason is working from home. The second reason is…

The distraction provided by their phones.

How true is this for you?

Do you find yourself constantly glancing at your phone checking alerts?
Tapping on it to make sure you didn’t miss alerts.
Picking it up to check. Doomscrolling – oh just for a little while, it won’t hurt. And then it turns into 20 minutes. 30. An hour.
Or just one video. Which turns into many.

Then you kick yourself inside for getting distracted again. Not being able to get stuff done. You self diagnose with ADHD and make yourself feel worse.

I just came across this research entitled:

Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity | Journal of the Association for Consumer Research: Vol 2, No 2

It was done SIX YEARS AGO. We didn’t even need the pandemic to produce this research, although the pandemic is certainly shining a light on ALL BARRIERS to getting work done.


From the paper:

Our data suggest that the mere presence of consumers’ own smartphones may further constrain their already limited cognitive capacity by taxing the attentional resources that reside at the core of both working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. The specific cognitive capacity measures used in our experiments are associated with domain-general capabilities that support fundamental processes such as learning, logical reasoning, abstract thought, problem solving, and creativity (e.g., Cattell 1987; Kane et al. 2004)


All reduced simply because the phone IS NEAR YOU.

No wonder why it’s No. 2 cited by my clients after working from home, as a major reason why people are having problems getting stuff done.

If you’re having problems focusing, whether working from home or in the office, do you find yourself glancing constantly at your phone or picking it up to check something?

If you are, it may be time to re-examine your relationship with your phone. How would it feel to:

Turn it off when you’re doing work. Turn it off all day long.
Put it in a drawer.
Put it in the other room.
At the very least activate Do Not Disturb.

What would it be worth to you to regain some of that cognitive capacity that DRAINED away simply because your phone was by your side?

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