Don’t check your phone before doing your work

Checking your phone for news, updates, emails, notifications for new messages, feed updates for Facebook, Instagram, etc. before doing your work might seem trivial, but it has great implications on your work.

Right the moment of writing this, I’m sitting in a cafe, and there’s a guy sitting next to me. He came after me, laid some papers on the table, and then took out his phone.

Now, I’m not judging or criticizing; I’m simply bringing an example. We all recognize ourselves in this as well. We all do that.

Since he sat down all the way until he put away his phone to do his work, I’ve finished at least half of an article (a different one) + started this one.

It’s common for people to come to cafes to work or study only to end up spending most of the time on their phones while the books and papers simply lay on the table.

It’s a real issue. I’m quite sure they want to do the work but for some reason, spend a lot of time doing something else instead.

And, even if your intention is to check your phone for 30 minutes before starting your work, I still think it’s a really bad idea to look at the phone before doing your work.

But first, how do we end up spending so much time on the phone even though we just want to have a quick look? That’s simple - just go back to the first paragraph of this article: there’s just too many different apps and information channels to go through.

But even if you manage only to give your phone a quick look no more than a couple of minutes, it’s still a bad idea to do it before starting your work.

You let all these distractive thoughts enter your mind; you become reactive instead of active. Based on my own experience, I never feel good and focused if I look at my phone before work.

I always feel distracted, tempted to check my phone again and again and again and I have to use extra energy to resist these temptations, and if I do slip, then it becomes even harder to resist and so on. It’s a downward spiral.

So the key is to turn off your phone, turn on the airplane mode or make it fully silent, put it into your bag, so you don’t even see it, sit down and do your work. Do not look at the phone a single time until your work for today or for that particular session is done.

This way, you’ll be able to not only get a lot done, but you’re able to reach deeper levels of thoughts and ideas that are impossible if you let yourself be distracted.

Again, not to criticize the guy (he’s my Guinea pig for this article) but by the time I’m writing this and wrapping up my article, he has spent most of the time looking at his phone over and over again and not doing much reading.

As said before, I think it’s a widespread problem many people are having. They want to do the work but find it more and more difficult to do.

I was like this for a very long time. I couldn’t focus at all, and I didn’t even know the reason was that I distracted myself all the time. I didn’t know browsing websites and checking my Facebook could have any impact on my ability to focus. I even turned on notifications for everything I could - I thought it’s cool and normal to have your phone buzz constantly while you “work.” After all, that’s how many others did their working.

The truth is, however, that it affects our focusing ability a lot. Our brains have to adapt to a new task, and it takes time. Switching between these tasks doesn’t happen as fast as we would wish. It can take around 20 minutes for our brains to adapt to a task fully.

It’s scary to think of the kids who grow up with iPads and their parents constantly checking their phones - that they grow up in a world where a lot of people are always distracted by whatever impulse comes in their way at that moment. Their mind is trained to not focus deeply on anything straight from birth.