Distraction management on phones

To say that I used to “struggle” with distractions is an understatement.

Some time ago, I saw the following idea — sorry, I forget where — and I wanted to share it. (I’ve no idea if/how you would do this on non-Apple-IOS devices, sorry.) Ready?

Move EVERYTHING off of the home screen.

This is not the lock screen on my phone — THIS IS THE HOME SCREEN. When I unlock the phone, this is what I see. Nothing. The frequent-apps/dock is empty, and all the apps are ‘rightward’ in other screens. And they’re just in a jumbled mess because I never swipe off this screen.

Instead, I swipe down and type in the search field.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “so what?”

It changes your life. I spent weeks (after making this change) waking up my phone, staring at this screen and thinking, “wait, why did I wake up my phone?” Now I think, “what’s the weather going to be?” wake the phone, swipe down, type ‘w-e’ touch weather app. Etc. Wake the phone, do exatcly what I want, close phone.

Yes, this does still require a small bit of discipline to not double-tap Home and swipe through the running apps, but I never was a big user of that anyway.

If you’re paying close attention, you’ll note my phone is in “do not disturb” mode at 1:30 in the afternoon. That’s another pro-tip. Add EVERYONE you’d ever want a call from to your VIP list. Disable the “ring through” feature (where multiple calls from the same number can push through do not disturb). Then schedule DND from 11:01 to 11:00 daily. <<= …read the ordering of those times carefully.

(…and sorry, no, that is not the one-secret-minute when you could actually call me.)

Any time I’m expecting a call from someone random — car’s in the shop, plumber is expected around 9am — I just turn off ‘do not disturb’. As a bonus, I immediately realize how many junk calls I used to get. I don’t have a problem remembering to turn it back on, and I get a fresh reminder of how delightful it is to have the phone screen my calls.

These days?

My phone now NEVER rings.

Except when it does! …and I discover that it is now always someone I would like to talk to.

One. Tiny. Success. At. A. Time.



A problem for me lately (on an Android phone) is that when I unlock my phone it goes back to the app I was using previously. So it often ends up showing me new emails or something else that distracts me from my intention for unlocking up my phone. Hmm, maybe I can build a habit of switching to the home screen whenever I stop using my phone…

Otherwise, I’ve been using this app called Siempo that helps make the home screen less distracting (in a similar way to what you’ve done). I have also done the “switch your screen to black and white mode” thing, which I think has been helpful.


I also had to train myself to exit the app—on iPhone, it’s just a touch of the Home button to take me out of the app—before putting the phone down/to-sleep. I need a setting for “phone wakes up to the home screen” vs “phone wakes up to previously open app” :slight_smile:

@jesse have you fiddled with any of this yet?

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The phone is something always screaming my name. The best thing I can do is keep it off or away from me during times I don’t want to look at it.

I make rounds through different communication apps when I have the time to answer them. My phone is so often the room I walk into and forget why - I feel like a hero lost in some sort of cave of forgetfulness - my intention and faculties slowly slipping.

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Do you visit here on your phone?

…I have a fear (something on my mind for the Panel discussion :slight_smile: that having the MM community here (in a web site, on the internet) feels too much like the rest of the internet. So those of us trying to control our phones (use them as a tool, not them use us) wind up dis-engaging from this community too.

One thing I do, is I use the DiscourseHub app on my phone. Can’t be distracted to go off surfing, etc when i have a dedicated app for MM’s community.

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Darn, there doesn’t seem to be a DiscourseHub equivalent for Android. There’s an official-looking app, but apparently it’s no good. (It won’t work for me, in any case, because it requires the Chrome browser, which I’ve disabled on my phone.)

That is the official app. But, yes it does seem to be not-so-great. Here’s the stuff on Meta tagged as android-app, (that’s the Discourse community for people who use or run Discourse communities,) https://meta.discourse.org/tags/android-app . I don’t have or use Android, so I’m not of much direct help.

I will say that the biggest thing people don’t like about it [the andoid app, and the IOS app] is that it’s just a web wrapper that access the Discourse sites that one adds. But for me (on IOS) that’s the exact point of what I want the app for. I don’t launch a web browser, I have this dedicated DiscourseHub when I want to get to any of the communities that I’m in. It’s a fine hair, but I like having it split.


Interesting bit of advice from Cal Newport…


…this kept bothering me. :slight_smile: I finally found the conversation @dan and I had in his interview about “zen screen” — completely clearing off your phone’s home screen.