Screen time is on the rise across a range of age groups. These days it can take more willpower than ever to set your phone aside and focus on work, homework or other tasks. Chances are, you could use some anti-distraction tech tips now more than ever.
It turns out that multitasking limits our productivity. Not to mention that experts have linked spending too much time on social media to stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
So whether you’re trying to stay focused on work, or read a new book from cover to cover, notifications buzzing in the background can be a major distraction.
That’s why we’ve put together these seven anti-distraction tech tips to help you improve your attention span and make your digital devices work for you.
1. Turn Off Notifications or Turn On Airplane Mode to Avoid Distractions
Avoid the your phone’s distracting notification sounds by turning off notifications on as many apps as possible. Do you really need to get an alert every time you get an email or someone mentions you on Twitter? Probably not. Some apps have notifications turned on by default, so you’ll have to go into your app’s menu to turn them off.
Turn off the most frequent or distracting notifications first, while leaving the important ones on, such as the texting app you use to message your friends or colleagues.
You can even go one step further by putting your device on airplane mode when you’re working on an important project. Airplane mode will ensure that no new alerts come through—not even phone calls—until you turn airplane mode off.
2. Use Your Phone’s Grayscale Setting to Reduce Distracting Screen Lighting
One of the most distracting things about smartphone screens is how bright and colorful they are. Apps are designed to grab your attention—and keep it.
Fortunately, you can turn on your phone’s grayscale setting to dim the visual appeal of the most distracting apps. This is especially helpful if you find yourself drawn to social media apps that use colorful and tempting notification icons.
3. Put Your Phone Out of Sight So It Won’t Distract You
Some research suggests that simply having your phone in sight—even if it’s turned off—is enough to affect your ability to focus on the task at hand.
Try leaving your phone in another room if you’re working from home or zipped up in your backpack if you’re in class. This simple act of “out of sight out of mind” will keep you from glancing at your phone or picking it up absentmindedly while you’re trying to work.
4. Install Apps That Limit Screen Time or Social Media Use
These days, smartphone designers know that distraction is a problem. Fortunately, they’ve started to include tools to combat it. If you have an iPhone, you can use the Screen Time feature to track your app usage. It also lets you schedule in some downtime where certain apps aren’t available for use.
On Androids, you can use the built-in Digital Wellbeing tools to set limits on individual apps. You can also go into “Focus” mode, or turn on the “Do Not Disturb” feature.
There are dozens of third-party tools that offer similar features:
- Freedom, which blocks distracting websites on your smartphone or laptop
- Boring Phone, a modern smartphone that doesn’t have any email, social media or built-in browsing apps
5. Try Writing Apps That Help You Focus
Some anti-distraction tools take a different approach. Instead of limiting your screen time, they help you focus on a task by providing a simple, elegant interface to work in.
6. Use An Old iPod Instead of Your Phone to Play Music
Some people work best listening to their favorite playlist to help them focus. But if you use your phone as a music player it’s easy to get distracted by notifications every time you look at your phone to skip to the next song or change the playlist.
Play your music from a separate device, such as an old iPod with no internet access, and connect it directly to your headphones or speakers to avoid distractions.
7. Create Your Own Productivity Workflows
Finally, don’t rule out old-school productivity tricks like the Pomodoro Technique. This method that has been around since the 1980s, and involves breaking down your work into manageable 25-minute chunks, followed by five-minute breaks.
After all, taking breaks is good for you. And if you work hard for 25 minutes, you won’t feel so bad about stopping to look at your phone.
Learning how to avoid distractions takes practice. But these seven anti-distraction tech tips should help you get on your way to improving focus and increasing productivity.