“Leave the distracted masses to join a focused few”
Cal Newport, Deep Work.
What’s the best way to control smartphone distractions?
We intend to work, but instead proceed to scroll through Instagram looking for inspirational quotes about productivity and time management. We look like we are working, but nothing gets done.
To do deep meaningful work, we need to perform ONE essential task that is at the center of our priorities. If you are a writer, put words on paper. If you are a salesman, make phone calls. If you are a youtuber, make videos. If you are a student, do your homework.
When focus and concentration are compromised by smartphones, there is one obvious solution to the problem. It’s called self-control. Good news — it’s free. Bad news — it does not work. Addictive technology hacked the weaknesses of our brain a long time ago, and gets better at it every day.
To hack back, here are 6 simple ideas that can help you beat smartphone distraction.
1. Lock Up Your Phone
Lock away temptations in a time locking container. These gadgets are commitment devices that help us build better digital habits — once it’s locked, you can’t change your mind.
An especially urgent case of separating the user from the phone is the classroom. Cell phone organizers keep the phones physically off the students to minimize distraction and — let’s face it — academic cheating.
2. Use a Productivity App
To help you reclaim focus and productivity while prioritizing things that truly matter, apps like Freedom block distracting websites and time-wasting apps, or even the whole internet at the time of your choosing.
3. Make Your Phone Disappear
Put your phone out of sight and out of mind.
Faraday bags block WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular signals: no distractions would come through. Since the phone cannot be tracked, privacy and data security are an added benefit.
Yondr pouch locks the phone inside by a magnet to create phone-free spaces that nurture human presence.
Unplug box hides the phone to let you concentrate on what matters.
4. Go Old World
Who said that knowledge work requires a phone — or even a computer? People have lived without them for millennia. The best works of literature and science were hand-written. All you need to capture ideas is pen and paper, and your own head. Just grab a notepad or a journal and go for a walk to help you think.
5. Keep Your Hands Busy
If your fingers are reaching for the phone out of habit, keep them busy with fidget toys — they help your mind focus and have an added benefit of calming you down. People with ADHD might find these simple toys especially therapeutic.
6. Learn From the Wise
To give a boost to your own self-control, learn from these wise authors who cracked the code of behavior design for our benefit:
Tiny Habits, by BJ Fogg
Deep Work, by Cal Newport
Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport
Indistractable, by Nir Eyal
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown
We would not need any gadgets if we simply put some distance between us and the phone when we need to focus. Single device work is the key — just silence the phone and leave it in another room. Do your work on a desktop computer and resist opening multiple tabs to minimize distractions.
Her research on the relationship between technology and psychology seeks to reveal how digital behavior manipulation affects human wellbeing.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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