Okay, we love our mobile devices as much as the next person. Smartphones are amazing in all the things they give us access to, but that's exactly why you need to power down so you can focus. We are more tuned in, available, and distracted than ever. You can, and people literally do, stay entertained all day, every day on with apps alone. The result has become somewhat Pavlonian as a text message tone or vibration sends everyone near digging into their pockets. Our subconscious is hoping for a release of endorphins that when we get a text from a loved one. Getting a notification informing you you've been "liked" is an addicting process.
Not to mention you can check your latest teams score, obsessively check emails, binge-watch your favorite show, and shop, all without doing more than moving your thumbs. The thought is a little terrifying. So many times you will pick up your phone, its screen automatically lighting up as it detects motion, and you can unlock it in perfect fluidity as you have hundreds of thousands of times before. Your thumb instantly goes to your favorite social app where you check for notifications. Checking for what? Something so important it can't wait an hour or two while you study? No, it's the brains desire to check for a notification, pulling down on the mental slot machine, hoping for a good result, wanting another endorphin kick.
The problem isn't that we don't know we're addicted. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM (which is the official go-to for diagnosing disorders) has yet to list cell phone addiction as an official diagnosis, but studies have been done which compare it to a gambling addiction. There is a lot out there to say that cell phone addiction is a problem. You can even go to rehab for it.
A real case of cell phone addiction might be unlikely, but that endless form of endorphin inducing entertainment in the palm of your hand decreasing efficient study time isn't. There are a few simple things you may not have thought of doing that will help.
Manage your notifications
Do you really need to know the score updates from all five of your favorite teams? What about every time someone likes your photo on Instagram? What about the notification that someone tagged you in a photo on Facebook, instigating a half hour black hole of clicking through videos?
You can easily dwindle down your "need to know" list by going into Settings > Notifications and then going through your apps, opting to allow notifications for each one or not. Some apps still might sneak some in (here's looking at you Facebook) but as they pop up on your phone, just go into your phones settings to turn them off or in the app to turn off notifications in a more specific manner. Our number one recommendation is turning off texts notifications while you study.
Only get notifications from your "favorite" people
We get that you still might want to stay available for some of your closest friends and family. Your iPhone allows you to do this with its "Do Not Disturb" mode. You simply go into Settings > Do Not Disturb > Turn it on > Select "Allow Calls From" and select "Favorites." Then you just have to add whoever you want to receive notifications or calls from to your favorites.
Use the "Do Not Disturb" hack
You can automatically have your phone text people back when you are on do not disturb. It's meant to help drivers be safe, but you can turn "Do Not Disturb" on manually. First, go into Settings>Do Not Disturb>Scheduled and put in the time window you don't want to be interrupted! Then enter in the custom text "I'm studying distraction-free for the CPA Exam, but I'll get back to you when I'm done!" or make it funny "Currently studying for the CPA Exam but will get back to you when I'm done. Till then, Happy St. Patricks Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, Holidays and New Year! See you in 2019!" to give friends and family a laugh but also fill them in on a bit of the process. Maybe even ask for a study care package. And as we mentioned above, turn off you text notifications! Distraction free will keep the buzzing and noisy notifications down and screen lighting up, but if notifications are still on they'll show when you pick up your phone to skip a song or use mobile flashcards.
Go with a "Digital Detox"
In other words, go analog. No plugs, no screens. Our CPA Exam study books allow you to do this. A low-tech way is just to leave your phone in the other room. You'd be surprised how many times you'll have the impulse to check your phone, but also how much easier it is to ignore when it's not within arms reach.
Many study tools these days are based on digital technology but even thinking of your use as "constructive" or "destructive" to your productivity can help change your behavior. Just don't be lulled into wasting hours and hours of precious time. You may even start to notice you don't need to study as long as you are not spending a few minutes every hour with your eyes on the wrong screen.