Tech hack: These 4 steps will make your phone less distracting

Simple tricks for hacking back your device.

NIR EYAL: So many people complain that their phone is a constant source of distraction but we can actually hack back our devices to make sure that they serve us as opposed to us serving them - very quickly in only just four steps.
The first step is to remove meaning what you have to do is look at your phone and just delete the apps that you find are not very helpful or the ones that you find particularly distracting.
Now the next step is to replace meaning you want to ask yourself are those apps that send you all of these external triggers, is the phone the best place to use those products. For example, I love social media but I don't really find much value in using Facebook on my phone. I like using it on my desktop and I use it during a time that I plan in my calendar according to my time box calendar because we talked about it in the last step around making time for traction. So I turned what was otherwise a distraction into traction by planning time for it in my day. And I do that on my desktop as opposed to my phone.
The third step is to reorganize. So on your home screen you don't want just any old app to be able to attract your attention when you first open your phone. You only want the apps that serve you most. So on my home screen I might have the apps that I use most frequently that do serve me. So I have email, I have my to do list, I have my calendar and I have very little else that might distract me.
And then finally the last step is to reclaim these notifications. So when it comes to reclaiming these notifications we want to make sure that we only allow the notifications from apps that really do serve us, that are the most urgent to have the privilege of interrupting us with sight and sound triggers. So it should only be your phone calls, your text messages, the most urgent notifications. Those are the only ones who should have the privilege to send you a ping or a ding that might interrupt you in the middle of something that you otherwise wanted to do.
So as potentially distracting as we think our devices are it turns out that two-thirds of people who own a smartphone never change their notification settings. It turns out that just in a few minutes of adjusting those notification settings and asking yourself is this external trigger serving me or am I serving it. We can completely change all of these external triggers, these pings, dings and rings that lead us toward distraction.

  • Smartphones are double edged swords. They are great tools for connecting people around the world, but they also often get in the way of productivity.
  • One four-step strategy for taking back control is the Four R's: Remove, Replace, Reorganize, and Reclaim.
  • By changing a few notifications settings and removing non-essential applications, you can completely transform your relationship with your device.




How space debris created the world’s largest garbage dump

Since 1957, the world's space agencies have been polluting the space above us with countless pieces of junk, threatening our technological infrastructure and ability to venture deeper into space.

Framestock via Adobe Stock
Technology & Innovation
  • Space debris is any human-made object that's currently orbiting Earth.
  • When space debris collides with other space debris, it can create thousands more pieces of junk, a dangerous phenomenon known as the Kessler syndrome.
  • Radical solutions are being proposed to fix the problem, some of which just might work. (See the video embedded toward the end of the article.)
Keep reading Show less

Looking for something? A team at MIT develop a robot that sees through walls

It uses radio waves to pinpoint items, even when they're hidden from view.

TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
In recent years, robots have gained artificial vision, touch, and even smell.
Keep reading Show less

The ‘Lost Forty’: how a mapping error preserved an old-growth forest

A 19th-century surveying mistake kept lumberjacks away from what is now Minnesota's largest patch of old-growth trees.

Credit: U.S. Forest Service via Dan Alosso on Substack and licensed under CC-BY-SA
Strange Maps
  • In 1882, Josias R. King made a mess of mapping Coddington Lake, making it larger than it actually is.
  • For decades, Minnesota loggers left the local trees alone, thinking they were under water.
  • Today, the area is one of the last remaining patches of old-growth forest in the state.
Keep reading Show less

The Great Resignation: COVID revealed how abnormal the modern workplace is

Is working from home the ultimate liberation or the first step toward an even unhappier "new normal"?

Credit: BARBARA GINDL via Getty Images
Culture & Religion
  • The Great Resignation is an idea proposed by Professor Anthony Klotz that predicts a large number of people leaving their jobs after the COVID pandemic ends and life returns to "normal."
  • French philosopher Michel Foucault argued that by establishing what is and is not "normal," we are exerting a kind of power by making people behave a certain way.
  • If working from home becomes the new normal, we must be careful that it doesn't give way to a new lifestyle that we hate even more than the office.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast