Smartphones are indispensable to our lives but they can also ruin our productivity. Here are 4 apps to keep distractions at bay
Smartphones are like the Swiss knives of the digital age. Not too long ago, we only used mobile phones to make calls and for text messaging. Now, we use them to check emails, catch up on the latest news, take photos, play games and shop online. In fact, I bet at least half of you who are reading this article now, are probably viewing it on your smartphones.
Now, this can be hindrance to workplace productivity. Those pesky notifications that pop up (I know you can turn them off, but honestly, my social life is incomplete without them) every few minutes or so make me procrastinate, big time.
So here are 4 anti-distraction apps you and I should download to get work done.
What’s this? Is this supposed to be a play on the title of the infamous dystopian novel/film Clockwork Orange?
Anyway, this app makes use of the “Pomodoro Technique” (Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, hence the name), a time management method that breaks down work into intervals of 25 minutes followed by short breaks. This purportedly helps to boost mental agility.
First you select from a few preset timer options: 25 minutes for work (Pomodoro timer), 15 minutes for reading or five minutes for a coffee break.
You then choose whether you want a ticking sound for the duration of the session (although only available for the Pomodoro timer), an alert to tell you time is almost up and another alert at the end of a session. You can also choose to start a different session or extend the current session.
Admittedly, the symbols can get a little confusing, but there is a chart that provides explanations for all of them, although it may still take a while to memorise all 13 symbols.
The clock is highly customisable as well. You can select from a gamut of colour gradients and display options (for example, you can add a digital countdown). You can also sync it with task automation app Tasker, to launch tasks in tandem with the timers.
If you fancy more bells and whistles, for example – synchronisation with Dropbox and more profile options, you can purchase the expansion pack at US$2.99.
With all its customisations and options, it will definitely take a while for the average user to become familiar with all of the app’s functions, but it will be well worth it.
QualityTime wants to restrict access to your smartphone, so that you can..uh..spend quality time with your mates or family.
Simply select how long the session needs to be, hit the start button and boom! Your smartphone is now locked for the whole duration.
While you will still get notifications for calls, texts, you need to halt the process and wait for at least 30 seconds (you can also set it to a minute or five minutes) before you can unlock the phone to access them. It does, however, give you the option, to accept calls from selected individuals. In addition, you can also make outgoing calls.
It also has a timeline where it tracks the total usage of each apps; so now you can find out how much precious time has been funnelled into that black hole called Candy Crush.
FocusON is one app you need to download if you have too many apps on your phone but can’t bare to part with them.
It allows you to block the use of any number of apps and notifications for a period of time. You can also schedule the block for the future or set the block to take effect on certain days.
In addition to apps, FocusON also allows you to block websites (although it’s only restricted to Google Chrome for now).
With its intuitive interface, FocusON is great when you need to block out frivolous apps or other distractions.
“Oh, how I want to break free,” the late great Freddie Mercury of the band Queen sang long ago. While he probably wasn’t referring to the addiction to smartphones, the creators of this app, may have been galvanised by his song.
The BreakFree app features a cute little monk mascot named Sato. “Sato here does get a bit over the top at times, but he will help you lower your score by giving you tips and timely notifications,” says the instruction in the app. How cute.
The score system is basically divided into three zones. Zero to 40 puts you in the Green Zone, which means you are not addicted to your smartphone at all, 40 to 70 puts you in the Yellow Zone, meaning that you are moderate to heavy user. Over 70, and you are essentially an addict in need of rehab.
So, to get in the Green Zone, the app advises you to lower your phone unlocks and app usage. BreakFree tracks the top 5 apps you have used daily, but to go into the specifics, you have to purchase the PRO version at US$2.49.
In addition, it provides tools to help you disable app notification alerts, reject calls and disable Internet functions (although you could really just turn off your phone’s mobile data and Wi-Fi functions) It also, ironically enough, sends out notifications for you to cut down on app usage.
On the dashboard page, it shows you your score, phone usage time and number of screen unlocks.
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