Closing the tab

Tips and tricks to minimize electronic distractions


Carolyn Gilbert

How to find the balance with the phone.

Homework is always a struggle–especially if you’re a procrastinator like me. I can sit around at my desk, the mountainous pile of homework on the tabletop, yet my mind is elsewhere scrolling away on Tik Tok or Instagram to try and forget the task ahead of me. That, or push it off for “just a few more minutes” of leisure.

The problem with phones is that while they’re great for entertainment, knowledge and communication, they tend to take up time that is needed to focus on other tasks, like my everyday homework dilemma. 47% of Americans 18 and up consider themselves phone addicts, amounting for a large amount of the time lost that could be spent on focusing on other tasks.

Screen time is refreshing and revitalizing, yet sometimes things just have to get done. I’ve noticed a few positive habits that push me to put down the phone and focus on the job at hand, and I hope that these things can help you knock over that pesky project too!

The Timer Trick
The easiest way for me to finally get onto my work and off of my Instagram reels is for me to get off of the app and onto the clock–literally. Setting timers allows me to use my phone in a way that is constructive to my work instead of continuing to put everything off and losing time.

The best way to start this trick is to task out everything you need to do on a list. Then, assign a general amount of time you will need to complete each said task (Remember: there is no shame in needing more time for a task than initially allotted!). Finally, work the clock and move that pencil. With this, your phone is minimized to a clock to keep time for your tasks, warding off all of the apps and things that will stand in your way.

Charge It Up
Okay, this may sound pretty simple, but this trick can definitely help. If even the timer can’t keep you off of your social media feeds, the best thing to do is keep the phone away from you while you work. If you have a certain place where you do all of your work, which I certainly recommend, keep the phone on the charger in a spot behind you or in another room. You will acquire the max focus that you need to block the thoughts of getting on your phone, and better yet, when you get done you come back to a fully charged phone!

Pick Your Number
Pick a number, any number! It’s as simple as picking a number on the clock to start your tasks. If you notice you’re deep in your reels and really need to get that project started soon, pick a set time on the clock within the next five or 10 minutes to start your task. This will help you manage your start and finish time to prepare your brain to make the switch between the entertainment and the work.

When Do YOU Need a Break?
This one is up to you and how well you know yourself. Giving yourself a break between tasks is something some people have a dire need for while other people can’t stand the break, and if given one, will fall off task entirely. Using the timer trick opens a gate to have breaks between all of your tasks, but I would not recommend getting on your phone between tasks if you don’t want to fall off the grind entirely. Instead, I recommend other activities like getting a snack or organizing your work, but I would not step away from work for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

Overall, less access to the screen can improve focus on the task at hand, creating a more productive space to go the extra mile in. By getting the work done early and in your distraction-free environment, you can then treat yourself to more screen time without feeling guilty about not having all the boxes marked on your checklist.