“It’s not that participants were distracted because they were getting notifications on their phones…The mere presence of their smartphone was enough to reduce their cognitive capacity.”
I would go a step further to decrease the amount of notifications as well. Clearly, if a person could separate themselves from their phone to complete important tasks, that would be fine. However, if they can’t, then at least a person should decrease the amount of notifications they receive. It should be noted that the companies responsible for society’s severe attention downgrade have created solutions. Apple, for example, with its upcoming release of iOS 12 will allow users the ability to group notifications. This is a nice step forward, but I think individuals (especially students) will need to go the extra mile to truly accomplish deep work, while simultaneously harness our phones’ ability to streamline valuable information.
Let’s talk Twitter. We all know Twitter to be one of the world’s greatest repository of current news. However, Twitter can also serve as an hours-long source of distraction if not “hacked” properly. I tell my students to follow all companies and individuals who are thought leaders in their future disciplines. The next step is to turn on notifications from sources who could be paramount to a students’ success. Twitter’s ability to customize notifications is a very useful tool because it allows the most important updates through to your lock screen and notifications feed. You don’t want every update from every followed source coming through; you only want the most important. I once heard someone say a notification is like someone tapping you on shoulder and asking for your attention.
Here is a video showing how to turn on Twitter notifications:
By the way, students and all others attempting to complete deep work should consider turning off almost all notifications except the truly most important and potentially game-changing. If you are not a professional photographer, you don’t need the latest photography app sending you a notification about their super time-sensitive flash sale.
(Also, check out Cal Newport’s outstanding book Deep Work.)