How Your Smartphone is Ruining Your Productivity

In the modern world, our smartphone has truly become an extension of ourselves. 

We use their technology (to great effect, I might add) for many different tasks. 

They’ve legitimately revolutionized the way we live, work, interact, and socialize. 

But is it possible that we pay a price for having all this technology perpetually and unceasingly within arm’s reach? Is it possible that, in some ways, smartphones actually hurt our capacity for human productivity in the long run?

This may not be the case 100% of the time. But in a moment, you’ll see how, in a few different scenarios, this is precisely what’s going on.

Robin S. Sharma may have been exactly right:

“Cell phones, mobile email, and all the other cool and slick gadgets can cause massive losses in our creative output and overall productivity.”

We’re going to explore five different ways that smartphones are ruining productivity for modern-day humans.

Some of these may surprise you! 

Let’s dive in. 

1. Smartphones Harm Our Ability To Think For Ourselves

We all know that smartphones make life easier. 

They provide us with instant directions at the push of a button. 

They’ve practically eliminated the need for us to remember: 

  • Most phone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Passwords
  • Other contact information

They also give us access to a calculator whenever we need it. Not to mention, empowering us to interface directly with the collective stored knowledge of humanity via the internet. 

Great, right?

Well, yes and no

For obvious reasons, these resources provide us with massive benefits. 

But studies also show us that increasing reliance on smartphones is making it easier for us to avoid thinking for ourselves. 

In one study involving 660 participants, those who demonstrated stronger cognitive skills tended to spend less time using smartphones to solve problems. 

The research supports something that we’ve probably all been fearing — the association between heavy smartphone usage and signs of lowered intelligence. 

Obviously, this isn’t definitive, and there’s a broader context to consider. 

But still. It’s something to think about before pulling out your smartphone every time you have a problem that needs solving. 

2. They Reduce Face-To-Face Human Interaction

In some ways, smartphones have made us more connected than ever. 

But it’s also true that, in so many different ways, we’ve never been more isolated.

According to a study conducted back in 2015, evidence is strong that face-to-face contact outperforms online/digital interaction in the context of helping to lower depression. 

The study even went as far as revealing that those with limited face-to-face social contact were at an almost doubled risk for depression. 

Those who meet regularly and in-person with friends, family, and loved ones are much less likely to report depression symptoms. (Compared to those who only interact with loved ones through digital or electronic methods.)

And guess what isn’t good for productivity?


Kate Northrup may have said it best:

“Give the people in your life the gift of your presence by putting down your mobile device.”

3. They Interrupt Our Sleep Schedule

We all know that getting adequate sleep is a pillar of health and wellness. 

We also know that getting enough rest is crucial for: 

  • Getting work done
  • Being creative
  • Performing productively throughout the day

But as it turns out, smartphones also mess with our crucial need for sleep. 

Phones emit blue light, which keeps us awake and messes with our natural circadian rhythm. 

Many people also keep their phones nearby while they sleep. Leaving themselves vulnerable to having their rest disturbed mid-slumber.

Between screen light, notifications, noises, vibrations, and the constant need to engage online, it’s a wonder that anyone gets adequate sleep at all tethered to their electronic devices.

Speaking of notifications …

4. Never-Ending Messages, Notifications, And Pings 

As humans, we only have so much “maximally productive” time every day. 

And if a string of group chat messages, dating app notifications, or emails interrupt this time? 

It can seriously undermine our ability to remain in the “flow state.”

As an experiment, try keeping track of how many times you check your phone each hour while trying to get work accomplished. 

You may find that you’re wasting anywhere from five to fifteen minutes per hour on notifications, messages, and pings that aren’t helping you be more productive. 

Consider turning off your phone (or at least putting it on silent mode) during crucially productive hours. 

It might surprise you how much more you can get accomplished with your device out of the picture.

5. Apps Are Major Time Sinks

Apps are designed to keep and hold our attention so that we’ll:

  1. See more advertisements
  2. Consume more content
  3. Spend more time on those apps than we’re spending anywhere else

On one hand, you’ve got to give it to the platform creators. 

They do an excellent job of harvesting customer attention and keeping it!

But at the same time, this makes the fight to “resist distraction” a very uphill battle that many of us end up losing. 

Have you ever grabbed your phone to check one notification, only to find yourself scrolling 15+ minutes through your feed?

If so, you definitely wouldn’t be the first. 


At the end of the day, it’s essential to understand that technology can be extremely helpful. 

But it’s also important to understand that we must master tech in our lives instead of allowing it to become our master. 

Try putting your phone on silent and removing it from your immediate vicinity during vital productive hours. Then do the same thing before you go to bed.

What methods do you use to keep smartphone distractions under control? 

Leave a comment and let us know! 

About the Author

feeling stuckRyan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over ten years of experience in the student housing industry and works with Sakara on a daily basis to grow their online presence.

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