Mental breaks for deeper focus
Daily Switch is a mobile app that detects smartphone behaviors that users deem as an ineffective use of their time and encourage alternative, off-screen activities that users want to spend more time doing.
Research shows that breaks from work-related tasks can improve focus. Activities, such as meditation and exercise, are shown to be particularly effective. The goal of this app is to foster shifts in mindset that aid deep focus by encouraging off-screen activities that refresh and energize users.
- Digital Habits Survey conducted in Fall 2017: A number of respondents stated that they wanted to better regulate the time spent on their devices. A subset of respondents also shared a desire to rescript mindless digital behaviors, such as scrolling through news feeds or browsing websites, to more productive behaviors.
- “Brief and Rare Mental ‘Breaks’ Keep You Focused” : Research by Alejandro Lleras suggests that taking breaks during long periods of work help sustain attention as it requires “deactivating and reactivating your goals” .
- A number of research studies suggest that meditation and exercise positively impact attention and concentration.
How It Works
To help the system understand the tech habits users aim to cultivate, users are asked to choose their goals in the settings options. For the system to make smart suggestions for alternate activities, users select their desired activities. These are essentially activities they want to spend more time on.
Certain activities, such as meditation, workouts, and listening to podcasts, allow the app to pull relevant content from third-party apps. For example, by connecting to a user’s Headspace account, Daily Switch will automatically begin the next session in their Headspace playlist when they choose to switch to meditation.
Encouraging A Switch
Based on the preferences indicated in the settings, the app detects smartphone behavior that contradicts user’s tech habit goals. Once the user is engaged in this behavior for 10 minutes, the green shape below appears on screen to indicate that it’s time for a switch. After 15 minutes have passed, a full-screen indicator appears encouraging users to switch to an activity that they deem more desirable. (10 and 15 minutes are default values, and users can change them.)
Users select an activity and the length of time they want to spend on it. The length of the break can be left at the default duration or adjusted using the slider.
While a switch is in progress, the screen displays minimal information–time indicator and the activity. Users have the option of enabling a forced phone lockout while a switch is in progress in the settings if they choose.
- Improving diversity of tech habit goals and desired activities available based on more research. Ideally, users should be able to specify any goal or activity of their choosing.
 Brief and Rare Mental ‘Breaks’ Keep You Focused: Deactivation and Reactivation of Task Goals Pre-empt Vigilance Decrements, Ariga & Lleras
 Brief diversions vastly improve focus, researchers find: https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/205427
 Does Mindfulness Meditation Enhance Attention? A Randomized Controlled Trial, Semple