Image compliments of 0fjd125gk87 from Pixabay

Lent is a season of self-sacrifice—a time when we purge our worldly our desires to gain a sense of what’s important. We can start with potential time wasters.

Our cell phones consume us: people look at these devices in upwards of 150 times/day, touching them 2,617 times/day (Naftulin, 2016), spending approximately three hours and fifteen minutes on their hand-held device each  day (Howarth, 2023). A byproduct of constant checking is distraction from the task at hand—especially when we attend to the “ping” sound of our favorite app. Attention deficits occur when we think about engaging in an app related activity, and when we switch gears to grab our SMART phones and begin clicking (Wilmer, Sherman, & Chein, 2017).

Task switching reduces productivity, concentration, and focus, and can result in “resumption error.” The longer that cell phone surfing lasts the more likely we are to commit work-related errors upon return. Social media addiction may even alter brain structures responsible for sensory input (Horvath et al., 2020).

Multiple antidotes are available. These include turning off the notifications feature, putting the cell phone in a place where we can’t reach it, or voluntarily choosing to check it only a few times per day. D’Onfro (2023) suggests checking only once per hour, and notifying family members that we won’t be so quick to respond. These actions (in combination with the Pomodoro technique—which suggests working for twenty-five minutes uninterrupted before taking a break), can create an unimpeded space where creativity can emerge—because it is not competing with an electronic disturbance.

Time tracking apps offer us a terrific way to plan. Scheduling our waking hours (and sticking to that schedule) enables us to salvage more time. Sage advice for all of us, for whom the clock is ticking.


D’Onfro, J. (2018). These simple steps will help you stop checking your phone so much.

Fields, R. D. (2016). Does TV rot your brain?

Horvath, J., Mundinger, C., Schmitgen, M. M., Wolf, M. D., Sambataro, F., Hirjak, D., Kubara, K. M., Koenig, J., Wolf, R. C. (2020). Structural and functional correlates of SMART phone addiction.

Howarth, J. (2023). Time spent using SMART phones (2023 statistics).

Kemp, S. (2022). Digital 2022: Time Spent Using Connected Tech Continues to Rise.

Naftulin, J. (2016). Here’s how many times we touch our phones every day.

Wilmer, H. H., Sherman, L. E., & Chein, J. M. (2017). Smartphones and Cognition: A Review of Research Exploring the Links between Mobile Technology Habits and Cognitive Functioning.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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