In the movie Limitless, the protagonist (actor Bradley Cooper) is able to increase the capacity at which he uses his brain after consuming a ‘smart pill’. This pill quite literally changes his life. He goes from being a struggling writer to a successful stock broker in a matter of weeks. The bad news is, no such pill actually exists. *cue loud sigh*. The good news, however, is that there exists a technique you can practice which may help improve your attention and productivity.
What is this magical technique I speak of? Before sitting down to work on a task, remove all possible distractions from your immediate environment (and yes, this most definitely includes your cellphone). Now you might be thinking… “This doesn’t apply to me, because I can actually concentrate quite well even with my cellphone in the room”. However, there is now evidence to suggest that even having your cell phone in sight may be negatively impacting your attention and productivity.
Although the saying "out of sight, out of mind" may not be applicable to all situations, it most definitely applies to this one. The findings reported here prove that keeping your cellphone out of sight when working on a complex task, such as studying for a math exam, results in you doing better on the task than if you had left your cellphone beside you. So the next time you are cramming for that algebra exam, why not try this technique out. Who knows...it might just work. Oh and trust me, your friends will not end their friendship with you because you took too long to answer their texts when you were busy studying.
Thornton, B., Faires, A., Robbins, M., & Rollins, E. (2014). The mere presence of a cell phone may be distracting: Implications for attention and task performance. Social Psychology, 45(6), 479.