From Digital Distraction to Professional Development: Tips to Increase Productivity

Make no mistake about it, we’re digitally distracted. Our obsession with our phones has moved far beyond “gotta have it” to “can’t put it down.” Some of us have become phone zombies, unable to tear ourselves away even for moments at a time.

The Digital Distraction Epidemic: How Phone Addiction Affects Every Generation

As much as we want to pin excess phone consumption and digital distraction on Millennials and Gen Z, that’s neither fair to do so nor accurate. Gen X are avid consumers, too, but less than other generations. Boomers are running a pretty close second to their Millennial offspring. 

Here are some stats from a recent phone use study that compared screen time habits of Millennials versus Boomers. It turns out that the average American spends an average of 5.4 hours per day on their phones with the bulk of that time on social media. The difference in screen time is not that different when you compare the two generations: 5.7 hours per day by Millennials versus 5.0 hours by Boomers.

So, you’re thinking, “Those numbers aren’t that bad.” Okay, fair enough. But what about the numbers from another study? Kids, tweeners and teens aged 8-14 spend more than 7 hours each day on their phones! 

Pre-COVID vs Post-COVID: The Alarming Increase in Internet and Phone Usage

Here’s where things get really interesting. Both of those studies were conducted pre-COVID. Since the onslaught of the pandemic began, according to data cited by Forbes, we’ve increased our internet usage by 70%, our data usage by 47% and our streaming by 12%. In fact, as COVID made its debut in Europe, YouTube and Netflix use was so dramatic that it crippled internet services for critical communications and business continuity efforts: as a result, Netflix reduced its broadband streaming quality down from high-definition to have less of an impact. 

Now this stat should blow your mind – Americans check their phones more than 96 times per day! 

That’s a lot of distractions!

Each time that we look at our phones (largely to check social media), our train of thought is interrupted. All those breaks in concentration, repeatedly, throughout the day, impede our productivity and could potentially affect our jobs. Throughout the day, our focus becomes increasingly impaired and, over time, our ability to focus for an extended period breaks down. Hence the “short attention span” syndrome that is often used to characterize “the next generation” – even though phone addictions and ability to resist checking our phones doesn’t appear to be all that different from one generation to the next.

As a parent, how do you break through to have enough time with your child to have a conversation, to discuss something important, to eat dinner together or to just chill out with each other?

As a child or as an adult user of a smart phone, why is it so difficult to put it down? How long can you be apart from your phone at any given time?

So what do you do?

Breaking the Habit: Tips to Reduce Digital Distractions and Improve Productivity

Habits are a fundamental part of life skills and professional development. They can be hard to break, but it’s important to remember that they CAN be broken. If you do something 7x it becomes a habit – for good or for bad – it’s up to you which habits you want to persist versus replace.

Here are some coaching professional development best practices on how to reduce digital distractions.

Tip #1 – If you’re phone surfing, set a timer and STICK to the limit you set!

Tip #2 – Check your phone at scheduled intervals each day. Maybe that’s at the top of every hour, maybe that’s only when you wake up, during lunch, just before dinner and before bed. You are in control. The key is to have enough self-agency and discipline to stick to this 

Tip #3 – Count likes. On an Instagram surfing and scrolling session, count to 10 likes. Once you hit that magic number, stop!

We’d love to hear from our readers on what tips you have to share to reduce digital distractions, and increase concentration, productivity, and mindfulness.

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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