Sometimes all you have to do is get things done – the budget chart, your novel, or even a nap – but your smartphone insists on distracting you with notifications, texts, or the appeal of social media. Sure, the Do Not Disturb setting can temporarily suppress interruptions when you need rest or a mental break, but newer versions of Android and Apple’s new iOS 15 include a more flexible focus mode with other tools for concentration. Here’s a quick guide.

In Android 12, look for the Digital Wellbeing icon in your app drawer. If you don’t see it, open the Settings icon and select Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls; You can also download the app. For the hands-free approach, just say, “OK, Google, open Digital Wellbeing Settings”.

Credit…Google; Apple

On an Apple device with iOS 15, open the Settings icon and scroll to Focus; “Hey Siri, open my settings” works too. On the focus screen, you’ll see that the old Do Not Disturb setting has been retained, and you have a button to share your settings with other Apple devices, including Macs.

On Android’s digital wellbeing screen, tap Focus Mode. Select the Set schedule option to block the timeout your phone needs. In the “Your distracting apps” list, select the programs that you want to turn off when focus mode is on. (The controls for managing notifications in Digital Wellbeing Settings are a great way to decide what types of notifications you will receive in the first place.)

To temporarily mute most calls, return to the Digital Wellbeing main screen and select Do Not Disturb. Tap the People option and select the contacts who can disturb you if you have “Do Not Disturb” turned on. You can do the same for apps and turn off alarms. (Some Android phones have a Flip to Shhh setting that puts your phone directly into Do Not Disturb mode when you place it face down.)

The iOS 15 Focus settings offer different scenarios (work, private, etc.) that can be configured and adjusted depending on the situation. Tap a category and choose the apps and people to interrupt; Contacts can see your Focus status in the Messages app. You can set a schedule for each focus category or have it activated automatically by location – for example, your “home” focus settings pause your Slack notifications and business emails when you arrive at your home. (If you work from home, use the schedule timer instead.)

Tap the plus icon on the main focus screen to set up even more situations, such as: B. if you want uninterrupted reading time; You can even turn on reading focus when you open your e-book app. If you don’t want to automate things, you can always swipe to the control center screen and tap Focus to disguise or uncover yourself from the world.

Screen timers are just not for kids! If you are lured by games and videos while you are working, let your phone protect you from yourself.

In Android’s digital wellbeing settings, tap Dashboard and set timers for specific apps. (Programs that you’ve already added to your list of distracting apps will be greyed out and cannot be used until you turn off focus mode.)

In the iOS 15 Focus Settings, each of your Focus scenarios contains controls for your home and lock screens. Tap the Home Screen option to hide notification badges in apps. When you turn on the custom pages setting, you can hide the home screens where you keep your most distracting (and fun) apps.

In the lock screen settings, set the screen to dim and to display your muted notifications quietly there – or not. The iOS settings have a separate Screen Time section where you can set time limits for apps.

If you’re looking to standardize your sleep schedule – or want to give up the habit of scrolling too long in bed – here’s help. On Android, open the Clock app and tap the bedtime icon in the lower right corner. You can set your sleep times and choose a relaxing background noise to clear your head.

In Digital Wellbeing settings, tap Bedtime Mode to add more sleep-friendly encouragements, such as:

The iOS 15 focus settings also include a sleep option that you can set up just like your work and other focus scenarios.

This bedtime focus is linked to the sleep feature in Apple’s Health app, which allows you to plan your sleep times, set your alarms, and select your relaxation shortcuts – which can include a set amount of time to listen to music, meditate, or other relaxing activities while you’re in fall into an uninterrupted (at least from your phone) sleep.


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