Hakeemul Ummat Hazrat Moulana Shah Ashraf Ali Thanvi ra writes
“It is permissible and moreover advisable to keep a Tasbeeh either to keep a count of zikir or remind oneself of zikir.Tasbeeh in hand reminds one to do zikir.
Disregard the thought that keeping a Tasbeeh will result in riya (showoff: blame worthy moral).
Riya is by intention. That is, only when the purpose to keep the tasbih is that the people observing will consider me to be pious. If this is not the intention then it will not be riya.
To consider this as riya and abandon zikir due to such random thought (wasawes) is a deception by Shaytan. By these deceiving thoughts he wants to deprive us from the rewards of zikir.
Also, another of his deception is the thought that what is the advantage of such oral zikir when the heart is preoccupied with the worldly affairs?
So, understand the answer to this misconception very clearly.
In Zikir initiated with the intention to gain Allah SWT’s pleasure, even if the attention is inadvertently diverted the reward is not lost. Provided the intention remains the same.
However, in free times it is essential to try and keep one’s attention focused on the zikir to reap more reward.
Hayatul Muslimeen, page 208-9