Easy Ways to Keep Your Attention Away From Your Phone at Work and at Home

Kevin Gardner

We're all trying to spend less time with our devices and more time in the "real world." The statistics are evident: all of us are way too obsessed and possessed by our screens. One out of three people across the globe has difficulty unplugging even if they know it’s a lot healthier to put their phone down. Not only is it healthier for you as an individual, but for a company. The primary difference between leadership and power in a boss is being able to do what you are asking others to do. Especially as a leader in a company, it is important to watch how often you spend time looking down at your phone.

Smartphones are compelling because they're specifically designed to be addicting with high-definition colors, bright lights and an endless stream of pop-up notifications intended to capture your eye. We now know a lot of ways to change how our phones perform and look. If you're looking to make your smartphone just look boring, dull or straight-up ugly as a way of detoxing, it's achievable. Here are some ideas to help you keep your focus on your workload and off of your device.

How Smartphones Draw Us In

Let’s take a look at the tools already installed on your device. Apple’s update to iOS 12 added Screen Time. This new feature provides a wealth of information about your iPad and iPhone usage. It breaks down how much time you've been spending on individual apps on your phone. You can also set App Limits for restricting your daily usage to a particular amount of time on an app or a whole category of apps such as productivity, entertainment or social media. iOS grays out the icon and displays a full-screen banner once it runs out to indicate that you've reached your time limit.

Android phones have a setting much the same as Screen Time called Digital Wellbeing. On iOS you can basically press one button to ignore it, but with Android, you'll need to remove the limit manually. As you can tell, it can be much more annoying (and thus effective).

Third-party apps are available for making your phone a lot less attractive. One Android app named Siempo provides you with a white background and bland-looking icons. It also has an option for delaying and clustering notifications. Here's where it gets even better: Siempo continuously rearranges your apps so you won't form the habit of reflexively launching an app ever again.

Your Phone's Grayscale Option

Your phone’s grayscale function is one of the best ways to detox from the appealing colors. On iOS the path is: settings > accessibility > display accommodations > color filters > and then grayscale. Everything will turn gray and dull. It's also good to shut all non-human notifications off. This means basically all pop-ups except texts you'd receive from WhatsApp, iMessage or whichever messaging app you like.

Let's say your fixation's more stringent than what could be solved by altering some settings or installing a couple of apps. You may have to change how you use your phone, but you won't have to stop cold turkey. It's a lot like going on a diet: you have to eat, but your aim is cutting back to healthier levels. Here's how we do that.

Some advice we've heard from various behavioral psychology experts includes establishing goals for your smartphone usage and putting work towards that. Turn the phone off throughout particular times of the day. Do not use your phone in your bed. Uninstall triggering applications such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Accept the fact that restricting your smartphone usage is going to cause you to miss out on things like breaking news, invitations or gossip.

With even more extreme cases, you might just want to get rid of the phone altogether. A trend of minimalist phones has been picking up steam. They're phones that just do a lot less and range from most functionality to least. Tiny smartphones such as the Unihertz Jelly are more difficult to use. Others such as the Light Phone can only make phone calls.

If nothing works, you can always go to a digital detox camp! Such places have been available for a long time and they're honesty easy to hate, but necessary for some.