Does the lack of (real) multitasking on mobile devices help us focus?

I was interested to read the results of Dharmesh’s Slack opinions survey today. Whilst the outcomes of the survey are interesting themselves I was particularly taken by one statistic:

time-to-complete

On average, mobile device users completed the survey 2 whole minutes faster than those on desktop! This is quite a staggering difference and got me pondering why this might be.

In part it could be due to the survey tool user experience being more efficient on mobile but when thinking about my own context of completing a survey (“me” and “mine” being the holy grail of all UX analysis of course), the mobile experience offers much more focus with less distraction when completing such a task. Desktops are littered with numerous icons, windows, tabs, notifications and so on all of which are visible at any one time. Modern smartphone interfaces tend to keep the clutter behind the current task so the only time you’ll be distracted is if you receive a targeted notification.

Removing distraction is a widely documented tactic for improving focus. Our mobile device usage has conditioned us to focusing on one thing at a time and here is some evidence supporting the improved efficiency of such an approach.

I’m off to close some distractions and disable some notifications, but if you’ve got an opinion on this, err… tweet me!