Rishabh Tripathi

On Minimising Digital Distractions

On a quiet evening, I sat at my desk, brimming with ideas for my new project. Today was the day to make a substantial progress. Just as I was diving deep into my work, my phone buzzed. A friend had shared something on Instagram. “Just a quick peek,” I thought, “How long could it possibly take?” From one notification to checking my feed, to watching short videos, hours vanished in a blink. Suddenly, night had fallen, and it was time to sleep.

Sounds familiar? A few months back, I took notice of my dwindling attention span and its correlation with my smartphone usage. Turns out, I was devoting 24-28 hours weekly to my phone, mostly consumed by mindless scrolling. I decided to do something about it.

Realistically, I knew that totally abandoning my smartphone and social media platforms was out of the question. In today’s digital era, these platforms are often our bridges to friends and family. Besides, essential apps like banking, navigation, couldn’t be sidelined. The challenge? Designing a system to use these tools mindfully.

The first step was to delete all but 1-2 essential social media and messaging apps from my phone. I started accessing social media on my laptop without giving them the notification permission and it felt liberating. On my mobile, I used to mindlessly tap and open these apps on the faintest hint of boredom, but on the laptop, it’s a conscious decision. Plus, I don’t carry around my laptop everywhere, which helps. Additionally, the desktop versions of these platforms aren’t as enticing as their mobile counterparts. To cap it off, I installed a browser extension named LeechBlock to monitor and limit my usage.

To control my smartphone usage, I installed Digital Detox app on my phone. This app subtly reminds you when you’re endlessly scrolling and offers an option to turn your screen to grayscale, making it far less tempting.

Another pivotal change was to keep the phone out of my reach while working, reading, or sleeping. The results? My smartphone screen time plummeted from 24-28 hours to a mere 6-8 hours a week. The present moment feels richer, focusing on hard problems appear less daunting, and newfound time has sprung up for cherished hobbies. More than anything, I’ve embraced occasional boredom and am steering my digital life, rather than being steered by it.

The journey wasn’t a cakewalk, but armed with some handy tools and apps, I reclaimed my focus and time.