How to stop getting distracted by your phone

6 easy tips, you might not know about, that really work.

Do you ever find yourself aimlessly staring at your phone?

If you’re anything like me, then definitely.

It’s because your phone was designed in a way to make you spend as much time on it as possible. The more time you spend on it, the more money tech companies make.

It’s not all bad though, phones are really useful and they bring a lot of benefits (like I just used mine to write this post.) But we need to make sure we use them with care.

Otherwise, our mental wellbeing could be at risk.

I’d like to share a few tips from this post by the Centre for Humane Technology that will help you make your phone a little less addictive and enable you to use it in a more deliberate way — number 3 three is my favourite tip.

Since I’ve started doing these things, I’ve reduced the amount of time I spend on mine by 20% based on the data from this app.

1. Remove unnecessary notifications

Red is a trigger colour that instantly draws your attention which is helpful for useful notifications. However, many notifications are generated by machines, not actual people. This brings you back to your phone again and again, even though you don’t really need it.

Go to Settings > Notifications and turn off all notifications, banners, and badges, except from apps where real people want your attention; e.g. messaging and email apps like WhatsApp, FB Messenger, gmail etc.

2. Make your wallpaper black

Beautiful wallpapers look really nice but I find they can distract you from doing the thing you originally intended to do when you picked up your phone. Making the wallpaper black helps make it easier to stay focussed.

Go to Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper > Stills > select the black one (bottom).

3. Use the greyscale colour filter

Colourful icons are distracting and they give your brain a shiny reward every time you unlock your phone. Changing your setting to greyscale removes the positive reinforcement.

Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut (bottom) > Colour Filters. This allows you to quickly triple-tap the home button to toggle grayscale on and off, so you have colour when you need it.

4. Keep your home screen to tools only

If you find yourself aimlessly staring at your phone, then limit your first page of apps to just tools, the apps you use for quick in-and-out tasks like Maps, Camera, Calendar or Notes. Move the rest of your apps, especially mindless choices, away from first page and into folders.

5. Launch other apps by typing

Swipe down and type the app you want to open. Typing requires you to think about what you are trying to do and takes just enough effort to make you question whether you really need to be using an app.

Android: use the Search Box on your home screen.
iOS: For best results, turn off Siri Suggestions (Settings > Siri & Search > Siri Suggestions to off)

6. Charge your phone away from your bed

Charge your phone away from your bed or in another room. You’ll be less likely to pick it up first thing and mindlessly start using it. It also means you have to get out of bed to stop your alarm.

Bonus Tip — Delete social media apps from your phone

Removing social media from your phone is probably the best way to reduce the amount of time you spend on it. You can still use social media on your computer. The idea is just to make you more deliberate about how you use it.

I use social media quite a bit for my work. So I try and do this for a week here and there and then add it back again when I need to use it.

I’d love to know if you’re going to try any of these tips and if you have any others, please share them in the comments below.

If you want to know more about this topic, I run workshops to help people understand how to do their very best work especially in a world of digital distractions. Check out my website here.