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Anti-distraction apps

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When the web was invented, everyone rejoiced – at last, the world at our fingertips! The trouble is, the world has lots of things to distract you with. Our computers and smartphones are endless sources of entertainment and communication. The pressure one feels to constantly engage can be overwhelming.

Perhaps an anti-distraction app could help. These are tools that aim to organise and restrict your digital environment in an effort to avoid you getting sucked into Wikipedia rabbit holes, or side-tracked by endless messages from friends.

For example, Freedom lets you block specific websites and apps. Hocus Focus shows you only recently-active applications on Macs. Mindful Anti Distraction encourages you to get off time-wasting sites with nagging nudges. One New Zealand start-up has even prototyped a pared-down smartphone that is designed from the ground up to be less colourful and distracting. It’s called BoringPhone.

In their book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, Adam Gazzaley and Larry D. Rosen recommend anti-distraction apps like those mentioned above. Notably, they don’t advocate trying to go completely cold turkey by banishing your phone or cutting off your broadband connection. Drastic solutions are not the answer, they say.

Instead, it’s better to try and recognise how prone you are to distraction at any one time – and work on being more focused: “Changing your behaviour may not be easy, but it is doable.”

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Image credit: Piero Zagami and Michela Nicchiotti.

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