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Hearing New Messages Is As Distracting As Answering Them

Trying to concentrate on work? Then you should mute your smartphone and put it where you can't see it, stat!

New Florida State University research finds that simply being aware of a missed call, email or text can be as distracting -- and productivity-draining -- as actually stopping to respond to the message!

We can also make mistakes when we hear (unchecked) messages roll in on our phones and tablets. Our minds tend to wander as soon as our phone beeps with the sweet sound of impending, virtual human interaction! Or a "reminder" from the game app our kid put on our phone, as the case may be. So much for multi-tasking, right?

Beep! Even when we choose to not check the message, we can't help but wonder who is trying to reach us. Mulling the possibilities takes up a chunk of mind share, and then we wonder how we made a mistake on the project at hand.

By the way, putting our phones on "vibrate" doesn't help. The mind still wanders.

So what does this study mean for workplace productivity? Never underestimate the power of the ring tone to throw us off-task in a big way. If we hear the siren song of an incoming message, then we can't help but lose some of our work focus.

If we really want to concentrate, then we might have to (gasp!) hide our mobile gadgets for a few minutes. Okay, I'll let you go see who texted you just now.


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