Use your phone to spend less time on your phone

Written on Mar 14, 2018

By Molly Ryan Kowaleski, content & community manager

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What began as an easy and efficient way

 to stay connected on the go has quickly transpired into the single greatest enemy of concentration. Smartphones are extremely handy when you need Google to answer the question “how long is the Great Wall of China?” (21,196 kilometers) or when you are having an automotive emergency and need to call for help. But, they’re not known for increasing productivity or efficiency, and, in fact, often do the opposite.

According to the latest research available, people in the U.S. spend more than four hours a day on mobile devices. That’s about 61 days a year. And it’s only increasing.

Unsurprisingly, the top five apps people are spending time in, according to MediaKix, are:

1.       YouTube
2.       Facebook
3.       Snapchat
4.       Instagram
5.       Twitter

So, obviously a large part of the problem seems to be social media and other time on phones is often split between real communication: checking email, texting and taking/receiving phone calls.

Ironically, the problem with mobile apps might be solvable with more mobile apps. The following were created to cut down on the amount of unproductive time spent on the devices and are helping people with smartphone addictions reclaim some of those 61 days a year.

Forest (available on iOS and Android)

Want to concentrate without distractions? Open Forest and plant a tree. If you do not touch your phone for the next 30 minutes, it will grow. If you give up or close the app, the tree will die. It’s not just virtual trees, either. The app, thanks to its partner Trees for the Future, has planted 236,176 real trees on Earth.

Checky (available on iOS and Android)

If you were surprised to find out most Americans spend more than four hours on their phones a day, this app is for you. It very simply counts the number of times a day you check your phone. Once it gets up to double digits (and is headed toward triple digits), you’ll be far less tempted to pick it up. If you want to know how often you check individual apps or set alerts to notify you when you’ve been on your phone for too long, Moment and Onward, available on iOS, do that and Moment can even make apps invisible. AppDetox and QualityTime on Android do something similar.

Productivity Challenge Timer (available on Android)

Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique? It’s a time management method that breaks work into 25-minute intervals (traditionally), separated by short breaks. The Productivity Challenge Timer is one of several apps designed to mimic this system. Another is Be Focused Pro, available for $2 on iOS.

Flipd (available on iOS and Android)

Professionals with productivity issues aren’t the only ones distracted by their phones. Flipd has products specifically designed for educators and students, as well as the former audience. It works by locking you out of your phone for a scheduled amount of time and hides distracting apps.

DinnerMode (available on iOS)

DinnerMode allows you to set a time – say 30 minutes or an hour – and will shut your phone down for that amount of time. It was intended for use at mealtimes, so you can enjoy a dinner or lunch uninterrupted, but it also works when you really need to concentrate at work.

Are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments how you curb your smartphone addiction.

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