Self-Mastery of Your Schedule Step 7 of 11: Stop the Phone Distraction

Smartphones have revolutionized the world. The first smartphone was released to the public in 1994 — that was 27 years ago. Since then, we have gained mobile access to our bank accounts, communicate with friends (and people we call friends who aren’t really friends), and we can even watch a football game while traveling through North Dakota! All of this power in the palm of our hands.


Sing it! D-I-S-T-R-A-C-T-I-O-N

While it has certainly made much of our lives easier, it also has become a big distraction in the workplace. Between your text messages, social media, news outlets, Target and Ring notifications, it is easy to take your focus away from work to the sounds on your phone.

Our phones now occupy what is called a “privileged attentional space” in our lives — kind of like the sound of our names. Visualize this: your coworker saying your name within ear shot every 2 minutes. Where does your attention go? Exactly—away from productive work. Even better, if you are a mom, does this sound familiar when you’re having a conversation with someone else and in the background you hear, “mom, mom, mom, mommy, mommy, mommy, mom, mooooooom.” We’ll leave that one right there.

Six Steps To Minimize Distraction

1. Understand your usage

Getting control over it means you have to know where you’re starting. Consider these statistics:

Average User: 2.42 hours/day | 2,617 average daily touches | 1 million touches/year

Heavy User: 3.75 hours/day | 5,427 average daily touches | 2 million touches/year

Check the feature on your phone that collects screen time data. This is your starting point. Now you know the size of the animal you’re dealing with.

2. Supervise your settings

Often times, we are the worst people to manage ourselves. We come up with all sorts of excuses why something can’t happen. This is one of those times. Buckle down and be the boss of you!

There are such features as Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode. What about silencing your ring, turn off notifications, and set daily usage limits?

There are also apps. Try ‘Forest’, an app gamifying the process of not using your phone. With Forest, you set a time limit for how long you don’t want to use your phone. If you succeed, a tree will grow in your digital ‘forest.’ Make a game out of not using your phone. See if you win.

Pick one feature to help limit your dings and rings and start there.

3. Block times to check

Just as you should have your default calendar of when you do specific tasks, add the task of “Phone Check” to the calendar. Let your family, friends, and coworkers know when those times are. Communicate a way on how to get emergency messages through. Then, your FOMO meter (Fear of missing out) will go down a couple notches. And, be honest with yourself — the 27 text messages you missed from your family group chat, was it really that important it needed addressing immediately? Most likely not. (We’re sure the local fire department handled the small oven fire just fine.)

4. Be present

When you have a conversation with someone…have a conversation with them. It has become too comfortable to interrupt a face to face conversation with a “quick” text message reply. Wherever this conversation is taking place, a formal office meeting, an informal hallway chat, be polite and be emotionally engaged. If you need to check something, announce your activity. “Excuse me one moment, I have to quick get this message.” This is a small part of human kindness.

5. Delete apps

Delete some of your most distracting apps. Completely removing the apps that hijack your day will bring back the focus and clarity you and your organization crave. It’s hard and you’ll hesitate but breaking news will make it to you through people or other platforms. It’s like losing 15 lbs…or skinny dipping — total freedom from the chains these apps have over us. You won’t know the feeling unless you try it.

6. Make YOU your number one focus

Make your day about what you’re going to accomplish instead of reacting to other people’s accomplishments or opinions. Why would you let hundreds of people into your mind through the course of your day throwing stuff at you that doesn’t even matter? Keep a healthy perspective on the people in your life that matter. Your days and nights should be about you and them. Don’t let others have a seat at your table uninvited. This will help you keep your mind focused on the important matters of the day.


Assess and understand that not everything is a need-to-answer-now situation. Start implementing the solutions above to some degree and start to feel the stress of distractions lifted. When you realize the world (or at least your family) can run themselves just fine without you swiping, scrolling, or texting constantly, a feeling of productiveness will overcome you to a point where you feel like a rockstar!

Your life is not an emergency room—stop treating it like one!