Hey Trish, I am SO distracted by my phone all the time. What tips do you have for staying focused and away from my phone?
Hi there, Ask Trish readers! I hope you’re all enjoying your start to June.
Thanks so much to this week’s questioner for asking this question! It’s such a great one, because let’s be real: we’ve all been plagued by phone distraction before. As I depicted in this week’s TikTok (if you haven’t seen it, go check it out!), you may plan to complete some other task – and be set on getting it done! – only to see that one text notification…and look up from your phone 2 hours later, a little dazed (and unsure of exactly what happened). With that said, let me start by validating this experience. You’re definitely not the only one, and it happens to the best of us (including me)! Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. While I’m no doctor, and this blog post in no way constitutes medical advice, I feel pretty confident saying that it is important to set boundaries with your phone, and to not have to rely on it or use it as a crutch.
So, what to do? Are you doomed? Not at all. In this blog post, I’ll share a few tips you can leverage to stay focused and away from your phone – and ultimately, turn to it when you want to, not all of the time. Before I get into these tips, though, I just want to emphasize: beating phone distraction is all about building healthy habits. The tips I’m going to discuss may seem pretty simple, but if you’re hooked on your phone, they may be a lot harder to do than you realize. With that said, it’s important to approach them with the mindset of both reframing your perspective and adopting new practices – which takes time. With a little patience, practice, and commitment, you’ll get there.
With that, let’s get into it! Tip 1 is likely one you’ve already thought of, but it’s worth re-stating: 1) make your phone completely inaccessible when you’re trying to focus. After all, if it’s sitting right next to you, it’s no surprise that you’d pick it up and start scrolling, typing, and posting! I like to put my phone in another room – ideally, one that’s a little far from my room – so I’d have to walk all the way across the house to get it. If you can’t make it completely inaccessible, do everything you possibly can to lessen its presence: turn off Ringer and/or sounds associated with your phone; if possible on your device, select “Silent Mode” or “Do Not Disturb”; and put it under a bunch of magazines, towels, or anything else, so you can’t see it! The goal here is to practice going a little while without our phones (I know! The horror!); once you’ve learned how to do that, you’re a lot less likely to feel FOMO or the immediate instinct to check a notification. Rather than go, “Ahhhhh what is it?!?!,” your brain will hopefully learn to go, “You can check that later. The world won’t end.” For some folks, this tip can be really hard, so if it’s helpful, you can also always rely on an accountability partner: give your phone to a friend, and have them promise not to give it back to you until you’re done with your task.
Tip 2 is to begin to set limits for the time you can spend on apps. I know; I know – more shock and horror! But this can be an incredibly powerful way to stop mindless scrolling (which, from personal experience, I can say often constitutes a lot of phone distraction. The notification might grab your attention, but that’s not what keeps you on your phone – it’s browsing your friends posts). If, like me, you have an iPhone, this is super easy to do (thanks, Apple!): go to Settings, then Screen Time, and then App Limits, and set a limit. When you do, be honest with yourself: where do you tend to blow the most time? And what do you honestly think is a legitimate amount of time to spend on TikTok? Again, an accountability partner can be helpful here: in fact, this is a fun practice to implement with a friend, so you’re not alone! Ultimately, you’ll hopefully find yourself being way more intentional about your screen time – and thus a lot less likely to turn away from homework and towards Instagram.
Finally, Tip 3 (which should influence whether you leverage Tip 1, Tip 2, both, or neither!) is to honestly reflect on the sources of your phone distraction. In Tips 1 and 2, I tried to give you advice based on common sources of distraction – being a little too obsessed with your phone, mindlessly scrolling on social media, etc. But there might be other reasons you’re distracted: for instance, maybe you feel a lot of anxiety any time you post something, and as soon as you do, you’re glued to your phone, waiting for likes and comments (which can understandably make it hard to focus on other things!). Whatever the source of your phone distraction is, though, identifying it is the first step to addressing it. That’s not only because it’ll help you think of ways to tackle it, but because identifying it itself is a way to tackle it: the next time you experience that source of phone distraction, you’ll know that that’s exactly what it is. And hopefully, that’ll help you reflect, reconfigure, and set your phone down.
I hope you found these tips helpful and empowering, and that you will put them to use soon! Let me know if they work, if you face additional challenges, etc. in the comments of this week’s TikTok video! And speaking of TikTok videos…as always, there’s a new one coming next week, and if you want it to, it just might feature an Internet challenge or topic you’re interested in. To that end, I want to invite and encourage you to share any of your thoughts, questions, or concerns about the Internet here. As I like to remind y’all, it truly takes just 30 seconds to fill out the form. So do it – and you’ll get some (hopefully!) great advice and benefit our entire community, who, I’m sure, will have lots to learn from you/your experiences. Oh, and one other thing: don’t forget to give our Ask Trish videos some love on social media. Like the videos, comment on them, and share them with friends and family!
Until next week,