On average we now check our smartphones every 15 minutes, whether or not anything is happening, according to psychology professor Larry Rosen.
“We’ve built up this layer of anxiety surrounding our use of technology, that if we don’t check in as often as we think we should, we’re missing out,” he told CNBC.
Most of us recognise that this isn’t productive: there are all kinds of tasks that need our sustained attention without the siren call of our touchscreens. So, try these ideas to take back control for a distraction-free life.
Put up physical barriers
Research suggests that even having your smartphone nearby and not using it is distracting enough to reduce our attention span. So, it’s no wonder that some of us have taken to locking away our phones when we need to get work done.
There are a few dedicated products but other users have been making use of items like The Kitchen Safe to put a timed lock on their devices. It puts a barrier between you and your bad habits, to give you more time for work or family.
Replace bad habits with better ones
Do you wish that you spent more time reading great books and expanding your mind than aimlessly scrolling through social media? Experts say one of the best ways of breaking a bad habit is by substituting another, better one.
“When the urge comes to do the counterproductive thing, don’t resist. Instead, replace,” says Carl Richards, author of The Behavior Gap. Replace your social media apps on your homescreen with your favourite ebook app, so whenever the urge strikes you can divert it to something productive.
Don’t get distracted by notifications
Just when you get in the zone on a piece of work, then in comes a notification for a text, email or breaking news alert that takes you right out of it. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can use your phone settings to avoid distractions: use the Do Not Disturb setting to temporarily disable notifications. You can either set it manually – don’t forget to switch them back on – or schedule it automatically for regular focused sessions.
There’s an app for this too…
A smartphone app to stop you using your smartphone so much? They really have thought of everything. Smartphone distraction is so common that you can download timers that will track your usage and lock you out when you need to focus.
Try Moment (iPhone) or Space (iPhone and Android) and get reports on how much you use your phone, set daily limits that put you in control and say goodbye to distractions.