Boost your productivity and stay focused in a world filled with ever-growing distractions.
Technology is wonderful and it provides us with useful tools that make our lives and work easier. Unfortunately, technology often grabs our attention when we should be focusing on other things. We’re all guilty of checking what’s trending on social media, watching just one more video on YouTube or even reading this blog when we should be focused on something else.
It is far too easy to get sidetracked. Fortunately, there are ways to make these distracting things less… distracting.
Phones are a lot like slot machines. They have all sorts of shiny colors and noises designed to steal our attention. Using greyscale mode might sound strange, but it can be very effective at making your screen less distracting. The idea behind this is that colors on the screen provide our brain with positive reinforcements and hacks our brain’s reward system, causing us to become distracted.
Removing these colors makes it harder to lose focus and get drawn toward flashy distractions. This article on Wired explains how you can set your phone’s screen to greyscale mode. Or if you’re looking to turn on greyscale mode for your computer, see these guides for Mac and PC.
We’ve all been there. Scrolling through a feed with no real purpose. You might not even be interested in the content you’re looking at but still mindlessly scroll. Many apps have carefully designed feedback loops to keep you using them, making it very easy to spend hours on them throughout the day.
The good news is that many of the latest devices have built-in features to limit how much time you spend using certain apps. In fact, most devices now have entire dashboards that show your detailed usage statistics. It might surprise you how quickly your usage time adds up.
We get notifications for everything. The average person gets roughly 64 notifications per day. That is 64 times every day that people allow their devices to break their concentration and lose focus of their work. Many of these notifications aren’t even important and provide no real value other than grabbing your attention.
It is important to regularly audit your notifications and choose which notifications add value and which you can live without. There are a couple of ways to do this.
The first way is turning off notifications on a per-app basis. You can do this by going through your device’s notification settings and toggling off the notifications for apps that you don’t really need notifications for. Some devices even have the ability to deliver notifications quietly so they don’t alert you, but they are still visible in your notifications list. You should also try to be mindful of which apps you grant permission to send notifications when you install them.
The second way of adjusting which notifications you receive is within the app’s settings. Every app is different, but apps like Facebook and Twitter allow you to choose what you are notified about. It is important to tailor these settings to only allow what you find important so that when you do receive notifications, they are for things you actually care about.
Phones aren’t the only things that cause distraction. It can be very easy to lose focus on websites too. Many browsers have extensions and add-ons that allow you to block distracting websites or set time limits. This can be an effective way to prevent yourself from falling into distraction.
Both of these tools are great because they offer the ability to only block websites that you blacklist, or if you find yourself still being distracted, they can block all websites except for those that you whitelist.
Finally, we recommend turning on your device’s Do Not Disturb mode which will silence all notifications you receive and will keep you focused. It may sound like overkill, but even if you don’t interact with them, notifications still distract you.
A Florida State University study shows that phone notifications are just as distracting as phone calls. The study states that even if you try to ignore a notification, it is still just as distracting as taking a call or responding to a text message.
You might think that you’re able to simply tune these notifications out, but this study argues otherwise. The study goes on to point out that even if the notification is received on vibrate mode or the user doesn’t even glance at or interact with the notification, their performance still suffered.
We recommend turning on Do Not Disturb mode and setting a timer for how long you want to work distraction-free before you can turn notifications back on.
In addition to these 5 tips, we encourage you to visit the Center For Humane Technology website where you can find more helpful information on curbing your tech usage.
We hope that you found these tips helpful for eliminating unnecessary distractions from your digital life. Please let us know which ones you found most helpful or share your tips in the comments below.