Does the title of this article seem confusing? Isn’t technology the reason we find it increasingly difficult to concentrate? Doesn’t our 24/7 always-on culture keep us from focusing on a single task? The answer to these questions is mainly a strong “yes”. However, there are technological tools that can be used to help improve your focus and productivity. A very simple way to think about it is: fight fire with fire. Here are some ways to use tech against tech to help you get things done…and do it more efficiently. It’s not all about willpower. We have slowly allowed devices to become almost grafted onto our bodies and online lives to occupy too large a percentage of “real life”. You can, however, choose to begin a journey that must begin with accepting that this is a real problem. Fortunately, this is a problem that has solutions – some of which are technical solutions!
If you haven’t downloaded a blocker app yet, you should give it a try. These apps are free to download and can be synced across all your devices. The app is an amazing tool that helps improve productivity by letting you decide what you want to see and when you want to see it. Many of us enjoy browsing social media, and social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. But that’s usually not what you should be doing on a 9:00 Monday, is it? With a blocker app, you can restrict access to social media during work hours, while studying, or whenever you want so you can get things done. The idea of the blocking app is simple yet brilliant. Let’s say you admit that you’re wasting too much time at the office checking sports scores or using too much of your work day checking photos on Instagram. You can configure the blocking app to specifically block your favorite sports site or Instagram at specific times. A blocking app uses a psychological technique known as nudging. Those who study human behavior say that we often just need a nudge to push us back into productive or positive behaviors. The nudge in this case is a message that pops up if you try to access a blocked site and says, “Nice try! But this side is blocked!
The app also comes with scheduling features to help you better plan your day, as well as timers for fans of the app. Pomodoro® Technique where you work for 25 minutes and then take a short break. Every 4 stretches of 25-minute bursts of work, you take a longer break. For those who find the nudges of a blocking app not strong enough, there is another option that might be considered more of a push than a nudge… Try a dumbphone. A recently popular model is called the lightweight phone and it has a headphone jack, Bluetooth, and can be used as a personal hotspot… but it only has apps for calling and texting. You can activate a few other very simple apps like a calculator or an alarm, but the idea of Light Phone is that your phone becomes a phone again instead of a computer in your pocket. The Light Phone uses an electronic paper screen with the same type of electronic ink used in e-readers. This means it doesn’t emit blue light like normal phones do, which helps promote sleep by reducing blue light exposure. Having access to nothing but phone calls or texts might seem a little drastic, but for some people it’s another way to harness technology to become more productive and boost focus.
Also exciting are new high-tech glasses and headphones which include sensing technology designed to help people improve their mental focus and relax. In the case of the “Mindset” headphones, you undergo what could be described as a “guided meditation” based on the sound of the waves lapping on the shore. When you focus on the waves… if the technology detects that your brain is concentrating well, the sound of the crashing waves becomes softer. But the more your mind wanders, the stronger the waves become. To help you relax, the technology monitors your breathing and as you relax you’ll hear birdsong in the headset. Such innovations are not yet everywhere on the store shelves and will – for a while – still be a bit expensive. Soon, however, they will likely become commonplace and join the list of technological tools that can be used to help us regain control of our lives in the age of digital distraction. After assessing your personal needs and situation… If nothing else, start with an app blocker to limit your access to the internet and time-wasting apps during school or work hours and you will be shocked to see your productivity soar and your mood and life quality improve too!