CMI Blog

Tip of the Week: Practical Ways to Make Your Smartphone Distraction-Free

Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are marketed as powerful productivity tools. However some workers may find their device’s apps to be more of a distraction than an aid to productivity. So what is a distracted smartphone owner to do?

Many UK employees use their personal smartphone for work purposes, even if they are given a work device. This is why many businesses are adopting a Bring Your Own Device strategy, so that personal devices can be used safely at work and for work. Unfortunately, not every worker has the willpower to forsake a mobile device’s time-wasting apps. For Jake Knapp, blogger and design partner at Google Venture, the struggle is real.

After spending time fighting a losing battle against the distracting power of his smartphone, Knapp began to look for a way out. He told of his experience on the sharing website Medium:

My iPhone made me twitchy. I could feel it in my pocket, calling me, like the Ring called Bilbo Baggins. It distracted me from my kids. It distracted me from my wife. It distracted me anytime, anywhere. I just didn’t have the willpower to ignore email and Twitter and Instagram and the whole world wide web. Infinity in my pocket was too much.

To remedy this problem, Knapp came up with a simple solution; dumb down his smartphone. According to his logic, if he got rid of the most distracting apps and only kept what’s absolutely essential, his phone would no longer have a hold over him. Here are four helpful tips that Knapp came up with in order to make his smartphone less distracting.

  • Disable Safari (or your phone’s Internet browser). For Knapp (and most of us), the internet is one of the biggest sources of distraction because it is, as he puts it, “a limitless universe of, basically, everything.” Most smartphones don’t give the option to delete the internet browser. However you can disable it.
  • Delete the email app. Email on your desktop is distracting enough; having your inbox in your pocket is another level of distraction entirely. It is the nature of email to not be the most urgent form of communication. For example, if someone truly needs an instant response from you, they would call you. Therefore you will probably get by just fine by only checking your email on your PC.
  • Delete “infinity” apps. Knapp categorises infinity apps as the apps that one can spend an “infinite” amount of time using. For example, all things social media and even games have a tendency to grab a hold of our attention and never let go. By deleting the worst time-wasting apps on your phone, you will find yourself spending less time glued to your tiny screen.
  • Only keep the apps that you need. Taking a minimalist approach to your smartphone is the best way to keep the distraction levels to a bare minimum. Accomplish this by only keeping apps that have practical value, like your GPS app, text messaging, calculator, etc. If there is an app on your device that is designed to waste time in any way, shape, or form, delete it for a happier, healthier, and more focused you.

Can you identify with Knapp’s smartphone addiction problem? What are some ways that you minimise your smartphone’s hold over your life. Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

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Darron Millar

Darron Millar is Technical Director at BTA Limited. With 20 years of experience in the IT services industry, his areas of expertise include SME IT Consultancy, Cyber Security, and Project Management. Passionate about IT, Darron is dedicated to being a trusted advisor to clients who wish to leverage technology to enhance and support their business.