Are Smartphones Stealing Our Focus?

woman holding cell phone

Does anyone else remember a time when it was physically impossible to walk around with a tiny computer in your hand or pocket? Ahhh, the good ol’ days! While smartphones have definitely made life more convenient in many ways, we can’t help but wonder: at what cost?

Anyone who has a smartphone knows the distractions it can present—but do you know the extent of it? Experts say that, on average, we touch or check our phones more than 2,000 times a day and spend more than 3 hours staring at them daily. For office workers, it’s been found that, on average, we can only focus on one task for merely 3 minutes at a time. At this point, it’s easy to feel like it’s our smartphone’s world, and we’re just living in it. But it doesn’t have to be this way! 

There’s no time for loss of focus when it comes to customer service, as being attentive is a huge part of successful customer care. So, how do you gain back your attention and deliver the best experience for yourself, your co-workers, and your customers? Keep reading for the breakdown.

Remember: We’re Single-Minded

First things first, it’s important to note that even though humans have coined the term “multitasking,” this is not something we actually do. You see, our brains can only produce one or two thoughts at a time. Even though we’ve created this grand illusion that we can successfully do many things simultaneously, what we actually do is called “juggling.”

Instead of exerting equal amounts of brainpower on many different tasks, our brain only has the capacity to focus on one task at a time. When we “multitask,” we’re really just switching our attention back and forth over and over without even noticing—and this is where things get tricky. Constantly switching and reconfiguring your brain moment-to-moment and task-to-task can significantly affect your focus.

Imagine you’re a customer service representative helping someone via the phone, and you need to put them on a quick hold to find their information. While on this brief hold, you notice you received a text. You unlock your phone, open the text, read it, deliver a quick response, and go back to looking for your customer’s information. While it may have only been a 5-second shift in focus, at that moment, your brain still has to reconfigure. 

Welcome to the “switch-cost effect.” That 5 seconds it took to check your phone may seem insignificant, but it’s important to remember you aren’t just losing the time it took to check your texts. Research shows that you’re also losing the time it takes to refocus afterward—23 minutes and 15 seconds, to be exact. Yikes!

Taking Back Our Focus

While we aren’t asking anyone to throw away their smartphone in the name of productivity, we do want to call attention to how intrusive these devices can be—especially in customer service. How can we live in this world of relentless technological stimuli and still show up focused and ready to deliver our best support? Well, just like anything, it’s going to take some practice. Here are 4 ways you can begin taking back your focus at work:

  1. It’s All About Discipline: Turn off your smartphone or activate the “Do Not Disturb” feature when you’re at work. Often, we forget that we are actually in charge of our phones, not the other way around. You don’t always have to be available to whatever pops up on your screen—re-create boundaries with your distracting devices!

  2. Take Scheduled Breaks: Your brain needs breaks too! And NO, scrolling isn’t a sufficient brain break. Schedule time each day that is device-free. This can look like getting up and taking a walk around your workspace, chatting it up with a co-worker face-to-face, grabbing a bite to eat, reading, writing—whatever would be best for your focus.

  3. Monitor Your Distractions: Having our smartphones at our fingertips at all times can make many of us forget that they play a massive role in our declining focus. Maybe you tend to get distracted at the same time every day? Or maybe there’s a specific work task that makes you want to scroll mindlessly on social media. Once you get curious about your distractions, it will be easier to notice and shift your behaviors.

  4. Let Focus Empower You: Remind yourself how good it feels to actually focus on something! It’s incredible to sit down without any distractions and exert your energy towards accomplishing one task at a time. This is where “flow states” happen, and it does wonders for overall confidence and productivity.

Deliver Exceptional Service with Every Interaction

At Bonfire, we’re focused on real learning, real fun, and real results. Technology will only continue to infiltrate our lives, and we want to ensure customer service representatives are set up with tips to take back their focus and feel empowered doing so. If you need help improving customer service and employee focus at your organization, we’re the team for the job. Reach out today to see how our all-star trainers can help transform every interaction into a positive customer service experience.