Mobile phones: a help or hindrance?

How many of us can relate to this scenario: you’re working hard on an important task at work, a deadline is looming, you’ve finally gotten into the zone and are tapping away without mercy.

Everything is on track and then, suddenly, out the corner of your eye a bright light cries out for your attention. What could it be? It’s your mobile phone, of course.

A friend has messaged asking if you’re free for dinner tomorrow night. Without realising, you’ve stopped working and you’re responding to your friend. It would be rude not to respond immediately, wouldn’t it? Text sent, you return to your task but cannot for the life of you remember where you were.

Is this not a staple part of our daily work lives now? Sustained focus on tasks is nigh impossible in the modern workplace, instead we bounce around in a frenzy.

Clouded thinking: keep a clear mind by sticking to a job

True, but have you not noticed that after a day of constantly trying to re-orientate your thoughts you often feel a bit jaded? Your mind a bit cluttered?

There is increasing evidence that switching between tasks quickly is leaving our minds clouded, tired and making us less productive. Studies have shown that it not only produces the stress hormone cortisol but also releases adrenaline, which has been shown as a root cause of clouded thinking. If this wasn’t enough, it seems that it also causes the prefrontal cortex to chew through your glucose store, leaving you feeling tired far sooner than you should.

Mobile phones at work isn’t the only problem

This is not an attack on the mobile phone, they are an incredibly powerful, technological innovation and do make our lives easier. Instead, this is more of a reflection on our usage and consumption.

Whenever we hit a roadblock in our work, rather than focusing intently and trying to solve the issue, one of our tendencies is to grab our phone for momentary relief.

As the example provided earlier shows, simply out of impulse, we even reach for our phones as soon as we receive a notification. All this serves to do is to break our chain of thought and clutter the mind as we switch from task to task in quick succession.

Improve your mental health by creating a mobile phone free environment

While there are many culprits that seek your attention, our mobile phones are a great place to start.

When deep focus is required, why not put your phone in your top draw or turn on Do Not Disturb. I’m sure your friend won’t be offended if you reply one hour later.

Start to create an environment where you do not quickly change tasks. Compound this practice and it will help to lift the mental fog and give you greater clarity throughout your working day.

The workplace is chaotic, but we can implement little hacks and changes to help our mental health.