In an effort to boost my productivity and focus, I’ve been working on creating strategies that become natural to me after creating set-it-and-forget-it systems.
I’ve found that a lot of the ways successful people get things done is by creating strategies and systems that work for them, not against them. It’s not nearly as much about willpower as it is creating habits that do the work for you.
In the same way that you would make it easier for yourself to eat healthy by clearing your fridge and cupboards of junk foods, you can do the same with your digital space to make it easier to stay focused.
Here are seven iPhone habits to help you focus during work hours.
1. Clear the clutter
Make it a habit to clear the clutter on your phone. The apps you don’t need, the photos you’ve already backed up.
A clear space makes for a clearer mind. And if you find that there are certain apps that are a total time suck, delete them. If you find there are people you follow that don’t inspire you, mute or unfollow them. Your digital space is yours – and you can choose to make it as intentional as you want.
2. Use Do Not Disturb mode
My phone is set to automatically go into “Do Not Disturb” mode at 10 pm until 6 am.
Do Not Disturb mode basically just silences your phone from notifications. I find this especially helpful on my computer, where notifications can be super distracting. If someone calls while your phone is locked, they’ll be sent to voicemail.
But if someone calls multiple times within a few minutes, the next call won’t be silenced. That way, if there is an emergency, you’ll know about it.
3. Set your Downtime hours
I discovered the “downtime hours” feature on my phone recently, and it has changed my life. I set up downtime hours from 9 am-1 pm every weekday. This has made my habit of not checking social media during my main focus hours of the day a lot easier. But it still allows me to receive messages and phone calls which is important to me. I have “Do Not Disturb” on my computer on until 8 pm, so I don’t have incoming messages coming through on my Macbook. But I do want to still receive them on my phone, just in case.
You can always create settings where only certain contacts are allowed to call or message you.
You can set Downtime hours by going to Settings > Screen Time > Downtime.
4. Set limits
In the same Screen Time section in your settings, your iPhone also has a feature to set limits for certain apps or contacts. So, if you find yourself spending way too much time on Instagram, you can create a limit like I did to minimize your time.
Ambitiously, I set mine to 40 minutes a day, and that has been a total gamechanger with the way that I intentionally use Instagram now. I have a few people who I love to view their stories every day, and I like to post in the mornings before my downtime hours start.
Otherwise, that’s all I’ve been using Instagram for lately. No more mindless scrolling. And when the time limit pops up, I accept it (even if I have stories I’d like to watch) with the exception of using it to post myself.
Similarly, if there is someone that you spend way too much time texting with and you want to be more mindful about your time – set a limit based on your contacts.
5. Go on Airplane mode
When you want a hardcore break from the world, go to Airplane Mode. Airplane Mode is good when you want to disconnect from wifi and completely disconnect from your phone for a while.
You won’t get incoming calls or anything – and calls won’t go through even in an emergency. I rarely use Airplane Mode but it’s definitely an option to consider during working hours.
6. Have inbox-free hours
Do you really need to read your emails every few minutes? I’m so guilty of this, so I had to create a rule for myself that while I’m working on a certain task, I don’t check my email.
And most importantly, I close out my email browser. Because if I see that there’s a new email from a separate tab on my computer, I’ll be way too tempted to check it out. And because of my constant email checking, I couldn’t focus on the task I was trying to complete. I still check it a little too often; it’s a work in progress. But now that I have my downtime set up, and inbox-free time rules for myself, it’s gotten a lot better.
7. Take notifications off
If you haven’t already taken all your notifications off, now’s the time! Notifications can be so distracting. In fact, studies have shown that any kind of audible notification affects your work performance.
That ping gets us out of the focus zone and makes us want to immediately check what went off.
And even if you turn the sound off, you might still find that you’re distracted by seeing that you have notifications to tend to for your social media apps. I used to find the red notifications so unpleasant that I’d make sure I looked at everything immediately, so it would go away. It was such a waste of time.
So now, I just opt to have all my settings off for notifications and check my apps. I still check them too often, but less than I would if I had notifications on.
Progress, not perfection, right?
What about you? What iPhone habits do you recommend for more focus?