Improve Your Cognitive Capacity

We all know how much of a distraction a mobile phone can be. Whether it’s the lure of social media, online shopping or even news alerts and notifications pinging through, the temptation to interact with your phone is a huge issue when it comes to productivity, concentration and even brain power.

According to a study conducted by the University of Texas, your cognitive capacity–otherwise known as the total amount of information the brain can hold and process at any given moment–is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach, even if it’s off. In one test carried out, participants were randomly asked to put their phones either on the desk face down, in their pocket or in another room. All were instructed to turn their phones to silent. At the end of the period, researchers found that participants with their phones in another room significantly outperformed in set tasks compared to those with their phones on the desk They also slightly outperformed those participants who had kept their phones in a pocket or bag.

Even the presence of your phone nearby is enough of a brain drain to cause your memory and problem-solving skills to falter. Although your mind isn’t consciously thinking about your phone, the process of trying not to think about it can use up some of your cognitive resources. In other words, it takes significant mental work and uses up attentional resources to avoid distraction. And even if you think you can cope with multi-tasking, i.e., thinking about not thinking about your phone as well as concentrating on the task at hand, you’re wrong. Contrary to popular belief, you’re not exactly multi-tasking and doing two things at once so much as making constant and costly switches between two tasks, a process that reduces concentration and focus with every switch. So, if you find yourself all-to easily distracted by your phone when you should be paying attention to other tasks, there is really only one solution. Put your phone in another room and get on with the job in hand.