If you want to take some time out from your phone, here's some tried and tested productivity apps that could help.
The ping of a notification can easily distract you from your work or studying and although you only meant to have a quick look, before you know it you’ve had a Fortnite battle and have scrolled through Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram twice.
Spending what feels like just a couple of minutes checking your phone every day soon adds up and it might be taking up more of your day than you think.
Recent surveys have shown that the average user spends a huge 25 hours a week online and that here in the UK, we check our phones almost once every 6 ½ minutes with 73% of us saying we’d find it hard to go a day without checking our phone.
If you’re like us, you read that and thought ‘nah, I don’t use my phone that much.’ It did get us thinking though; how much time are we really spending on our phones and is it time for a digital detox?
What is a digital detox?
With more people choosing to take some time out from their phones, digital detoxes – completely giving up your phone or turning it off for 24 hours or more – are becoming more and more popular.
Even manufacturers are taking notice of this trend with the likes of Apple including new features in iOS 12 like Screen Time, Grouped Notifications and an improved Do Not Disturb function. These features are all intended to make your phone less distracting and way less intrusive.
But, if you’re not quite ready to follow in Simon Cowell’s footsteps by doing a full digital detox (he’s gone a whole 10 months without his phone so far) and even going a day without your phone is your worst nightmare, we’ve got some tried and tested productivity apps that can help you take a break from your phone, letting you focus your energy on the more important stuff. After all, phones are good and with these handy apps, you can make sure you’re always feeling peppy and productive with your mobile, rather than drained and distracted.
Do you know how many times a day you check your phone? It’s difficult to say, as even just subconsciously unlocking it to ‘check the time’ counts. It’s impossible to know; until now that is.
The Moment app (Android and iOS) tracks how much you use your phone. It tells you how much time you’ve spent looking at the screen, which apps you’ve used most and how many times you’ve unlocked it too.
If you’re a bit embarrassed by your daily totals (we were, 2 hours 55 minutes’ screen time and 65 unlocks? Really?) You can use the app to set yourself a daily limit. It’ll then notify you if/when you go over your limit.
Space – you need a breather
We know that checking apps can give you instant gratification – that’s how they work after all and it’s what keeps us going back for more. So, it’s easy to see why it doesn’t take long for us to get hooked.
If you want to take back some control and break your app habit, give the Space app (Android and iOS) a go.
Space gives you a replacement icon for the apps you need a break from. The new icon gives you a quick breathing exercise to do before taking you to the real app.
Introducing a moment of zen, helps you to beat instant gratification and to kick your app habit without having to delete anything.
Once you know how much time you really spend on your phone and which apps are eating up most of your time, it’s easier to do something about it. If you need some help weaning yourself off certain apps, that’s where App Detox (Android) comes in.
You can set up usage limits to stop yourself from spending more time than you meant to on individual apps. If you go over your set time, the app will remind you to take a break.
If you want an app that motivates you to take a break from your phone and can also help the environment, look no further than Forest (iOS and Android). With the tag line ‘stay focused, be present’, the Forest app helps you put your phone down and focus on the more important things like work, studying or even just spending time with friends and family without being guilty of phubbing – snubbing someone in favour of your phone.
When you need time to focus, set the time limit – from 10 minutes to 2 hours to plant a seed. The longer you spend with the app open – stopping you from getting distracted by the lure of social media, the more your tree will grow and flourish. But, if you give in to temptation and close the app, the tree will die.
Your fully-grown trees will start to make up your forest, with each tree being a happy reminder of the time you’ve spent focused.
What’s more, you earn virtual coins with every virtual tree you grow. These coins can then be used to grow trees in real life, thanks to Forest’s partnership with real tree-planting organisation, Trees for the Future. Not only will you become more productive, you’ll be helping the environment too.
Once you’ve cut down the time you spend stalking people on Facebook, you can make the time you spend on your phone really count. So, why not set an hour or two aside each day when you can relax and watch a movie, or connect with people that really count.
This quality, guilt-free phone time will help you get the balance right and thanks to Go Binge, you don’t need to worry about your bill if you’re Snapchatting your best mate or streaming Netflix on your Galaxy S10. Remember, phones are good and they’re here to make life easier, not harder.