Magazine Contact #25 - Magazine - About us - Concept Wiesner-Hager

Switch off your phone! Five ways to focus more during the working day.

Magazine Contact #25

The phone rings, emails are constantly trundling into your inbox, and then your smartphone, smart-watch or tablet also flashes and vibrates without cease. By now, that is completely normal, particularly for millennials who have grown up with digitisation and the new media.

On average, millennials write and receive 100 text messages each day and spend around two hours per day on social media. They are available everywhere all the time. The other side of the coin: focus on work suffers under the constant distractions, and studies prove that we are forgetting how to concentrate. In the framework of the Brain Drain* study, researchers at the University of Texas have found out that that our smartphones are stealing a part of our brainpower. The results show that it is enough to have your own smartphone in your line of vision for it to make you worse at concentrating.

A possible explanation for this is that the test subjects had to consciously force themselves not to look at the display, for example, to check for new messages. This cost them a large part of their power of concentration. Another explanation is that people are sacrificing more and more of their thinking ability to their smartphone, the brain is no longer called upon to solve problems.

The good news: concentration is something that can be trained. We have done some research and put together some tips to allow you to concentrate better during the working day.

Five ways to focus more during the working day.


Less phone: More success.

In the study, University of Texas researchers observed around 800 smartphone users. They wanted to find out how well the test subjects could solve certain tasks without making mistakes, if their smartphone was nearby, but not being used. All of the test subjects had to switch their devices to silent. One group was to keep the devices in another room, the second group was to have them in their pockets. The third were allowed to have it on the table with the screen facing downwards. Then, the participants were given tasks which could only be completed with a good score with full concentration. The group whose devices were in another room obtained markedly better results than those with their smartphones on the table.


* Adrian F. Ward, Kristen Duke, Ayelet Gneezy and Maarten W. Bos, ”Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity”, Journal of the Association for Consumer Research 2, no. 2 (April 2017): 140-154. doi. org/10.1086/691462

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