Flip-flop Your Phone from a Distraction to an Aid

A huge time suck for the average person this day in age, is their phone. As technology, social media, and digital instant gratification grow, the more time people spend and become dependent on their phones for their daily needs. What people fail to realize (or fail to admit), is that more time is spent on their phones as ways to distract them from productivity as oppose to aiding it. As much as we want to simply take the advice of putting the phone down, some of us can’t for various reasons whether it is checking emails, keeping up with their social media accounts for their companies and brands, or playing games. If you have found yourself distraught over losing hours in your day, or not having enough time, it may be a tough pill to swallow that your friend, your phone, is actually your enemy at times. This mini guide contains tips and downloadable apps that will turn your phone from a productivity thief; to your best digital assistant you can have, allowing you to achieve all of your goals without feeling like your time is slipping away.  

Figure out where your time is going with the SPACE app (Android, ioS)

The first thing to do to solve a problem is to realize you have a problem. You may have a slight understanding that you waste time on your phone playing around on social media, and playing games, but once you see how much time you are actually spending, it may be a wake-up call that will blow you away. DOWNLOAD SPACE, the productivity app that will help track phone usage right down to how many minutes you are spending on each specific app you open on your phone. After your download of SPACE, you will take a very short questionnaire so the app can identify what type of phone user you are and hone in on the reason why you spend time on your phone. After taking the questionnaire, SPACE will give you a fun description on what type of phone user you are and suggest a time allowance per day and an unlock allowance per day based on your questionnaire responses. If you don’t quite agree with the suggested time and unlock allowance, you do have an option to increase or lower the suggested amounts. If for some reason you don’t agree with the questionnaire results, or you were a bit dishonest about your phone habits, you also have the option to retake the questionnaire to try for another phone-user type.  Throughout the day SPACE will send you notifications if you are spending a bit too much time on your phone or unlocking it too much. You can also activate a Focus time that will disable notifications for you to help curb distractions. Once you turn Focus off, a summary of your missed notifications will be available for you to view. It’s a cute, but nagging app that beckons you to spend some more time connecting with people in the real world. If you are actually using your phone to do a productive task, there is also an option to pause the tracking so that your productive time is not counted against you. SPACE also tracks your progress in various ways daily and weekly and also awards you achievements once you reach certain goals. SPACE is available for Android and Apple.

Reallocate your time with the Wunderlist (Android ioS)

You may be in shock after seeing just how much time you spend lollygagging on your phone. If you already know all the better things that you can do than stare at your phone all day, then this next step will be easy for you. For those of you who have no idea just what to do with all that social media and game time, then put some time aside to create goals for yourself. The way I reallocated my time is by writing down all the things that I want or like to do within a week, without second guessing myself. After my list was complete, I had quite a bit of productive activities which ranged from working out, to mediating, to taking up any fun hobbies I haven’t done in a while. I took my list and organized them into categories which split between Health and Wellness, Learning, Chores, and Fun. From there, based on how my weekly schedule usually plays out, I decided general days I would do my activities. Finally, I would take the average amount of time that I spend on nonsense apps such as social media and games and reallocated 80% of that time to dedicate to the productive activities on my list. I took 80% of my total time that I spend lollygagging and reduced it to a 20% allowance of time to entertain myself with social media and games. In short, make a goal list and break it down to a daily to-do list and use all that extra time to dedicate taking those necessary steps to achieving your goals. Although I prefer to write down my to-do list, for those who want to use their phones I suggest using WUNDERLIST. WUNDERLIST is a cloud-based smart task list app that is available across all devices. WUNDERLIST allows you to share your list, set reminders and due dates, add notes,

Use the Pomodoro Technique

You may have quite a bit of time to reallocate from distracting activities to productive activities and a great way to split how much time you spend on each task is by using the Pomodoro Technique. Developed in the 1980’s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique breaks the time dedicated working on tasks into 25 minute intervals. These intervals are called ‘pomodoros’, a plural form of Pomodoro, which is the Italian word for Tomato. Cirillo used the popular tomato shaped kitchen timer in college, which he used to count down his 25 minute intervals. The Pomodoro technique is still very popular today and has worked for many people seeking assistance in proper time management. After each Pomodoro interval, you are to take a short 3-5 minute break. Four Pomodoro Intervals, equal to 100 minutes, form a set. After each set, you are to take a longer 15-20 minute break. From there it’s up to you to decide if you want to dedicate 100 minutes to one task or for four 25 minute tasks in a 100 minute productivity session.  It is suggested for you to take all your shorter and longer breaks, even if you don’t feel the need to take a break. The intention is to allow you to avoid a mental crash, stay refreshed and reflect on your prior 25 minutes of work. Of course, you can use your break time however you please, as long as it doesn’t bleed into your work time.

Of course you can manually use your phone’s timer to set Pomodoro intervals and break time, but I suggest to DOWNLOAD GOODTIME. GOODTIME is a Productivity timer that is based off of the Pomodoro technique that disables Internet and sound notifications during your work sessions. What’s great about GOODTIME is that it is non-intrusive, works in the background, is battery friendly, and can be paused at any time. You can also adjust the suggested Pomodoro work intervals, sets, and break times if you need something more customized.

Distraction-Free Time (Flipd App for iOs)

For the times when you aren’t working, but want to focus on living your life off of your phone, DOWNLOAD BASHFUL. BASHFUL is a simple timer that lets you set how much distraction-free time you want. Once you set the timer, notifications are muted and an overlay lock with a blue circle in the center will be put on your phone. Pressing and holding the blue circle for 5 seconds will unlock your phone, but only for a 20 second interval before BASHFUL locks it again. 5 unlocks will disable BASHFUL, and of course you can turn it off during your 20 seconds of unlock time. While the BASHFUL timer is active, you can still receive phone calls and BASHFUL will deactivate while you are on a call.

Even with the use of the apps, the only sure-fire way for these to be effective is if you are willing to allow them to help. Of course if you ignore the reminders of you unlocking and using your phone to much, use your pomodoros to goof around, let your WUNDERLIST collect dust, ignore your FABOLOUS suggestions, and continuously deactivate BASHFUL you will still be deep in the toxic relationship that you have with your phone and your free time. There are only a lucky few who can completely cut themselves off from using their phones, but for the rest of us, our dependency is masking into a wasteful soft addiction. Turning your phone from a frenemy who is there for you, but toxic; into a friend who helps build you up is a way to empower you to reach your goals and take a step closer to living your ideal life.

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