Using your phone on break during mentally challenging tasks doesn’t allow your brain to recharge effectively and may result in poorer performance, according to new research.
For the study, researchers assigned college undergraduates to solve challenging sets of word puzzles. Halfway through, some were allowed to take breaks using their cellphones. Others took breaks using paper or a computer while some took no break at all.
The participants who took phone breaks experienced the highest levels of mental depletion and were among the least capable of solving the puzzles afterwards. Their post-break efficiency and quickness was comparable to those with no break. Their number of word problems solved after the break was slightly better than those who took no break, but worse than all other participants.
Participants who took a break on their cell phone took 19% longer to do the rest of the task and solved 22% fewer problems than did those in the other break conditions combined.
As I argued in my last book, rest and recovery are really important for creatives– and everyone, really– and one of the important things we have to do in today’s world is recognize that some things that are distracting or habits actually aren’t that restorative.
So put down your phone now and then, and just stare into space.