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Stop your phone from distracting you

Now that term-time is looming, it’s time to turn our attention back to work. Before we get stuck in, it’s good to take a moment and think of ways to make the work less painful. One way to do this is to try and get everything done as quickly as possible by focusing on it. Unfortunately, it sometimes feels like the universe is doing its best to prevent this. We all face distractions, and the biggest one for many of us is our phones. Let’s see why this is a struggle and how to deal with it.

We use phones a lot. Adults in the UK spend a daily average of two hours and nineteen minutes on their phones according to an Ofcom report. Some of that time is necessary. With the pandemic moving more and more things online, it’s difficult to live without a phone. Emails, texts and social media have become part of life, but how many dog videos do you really need to see? How much of your phone time is genuine fun, and how much is mindless scrolling?

Distractions, when you’re trying to work, can stop you from achieving a state of ‘flow’

Even if you try and keep time on your phone to a minimum, chances are you’re still checking it multiple times. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it’s making your life harder. Distractions, when you’re trying to work, can stop you from achieving a state of ‘flow’. This might sound like hand-wavey nonsense, but flow is a ‘state in which we are fully absorbed in an activity whilst being very productive. When you’re in a state of flow, you are able to work for long stretches without being aware of time passing. Imagine! Working without being painfully conscious of the clock! To get into the flow you need to work for a few minutes with no distractions at all. Even glancing at your phone can disrupt this, so you need to stop checking your messages!

There are a few ways you can crack down on your phone use. Some apps like Instagram have settings that limit the amount of time you can spend on them. There are also plenty of apps that are specifically designed to help you manage your phone.  StayFree on android allows you to monitor your screentime and limit the amount of time you can spend on certain apps. On iPhone, you can do this directly in the ‘Screen Time’ section of the phone settings. Forest is an app that discourages you from using your phone at all. You simply set a timer, and as it counts down a virtual tree grows so long as you don’t exit the app. Over time you can build up your own personal forest, which is adorable.

Conversations on most apps, including Messenger and WhatsApp, can be temporarily muted

Limiting time on your phone gets harder when it means ignoring your friends. Group chats especially are difficult to ignore. At the very least, you should put your phone on silent when you’re trying to concentrate. Conversations on most apps, including Messenger and WhatsApp, can be temporarily muted or you could ask your friends to leave you alone during certain times. Of course, as a last resort, you can get rid of your friends entirely. Try only talking to them about fly fishing and the life cycle of worms. Those pesky messages will be gone in no time!

For that matter, why not just get rid of your phone? If smashing it with a hammer seems too extreme, you can stash it in a drawer or give it to a friend until you’re ready to take it back. The truly desperate can buy a non-smartphone for around £20 that only allows you to phone and text. 

Whether we like it or not, phones and the distractions they present are here to stay. How you use your phone is up to you, and the amount of time you spend looking at memes is a personal choice. Just be aware of the impact your phone use has on your life, be it for the better or worse, and use whatever tools you need to make the most of it.

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