People in the United States across all age groups check their phones 46 times per day on average. About half of all adults check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up and a third check them before bed, according to Deloitte.
Technology can be both beneficial and detrimental and, while we are surrounded by amazing tools that help improve our lives, we're also surrounded by distractions.
Here are seven ways to help you focus:
Give your brain a chance to unplug. When we're consuming media on screens, we're typically not doing one thing at a time. Our brain rapidly toggles between information, otherwise known as multitasking. When you multitask, your brain releases dopamine, which is why we sometimes feel so energized when doing multiple things at once. The changing focus doesn't allow your brain to work at full capacity, however. It's like running a race with weights on your legs, you can do it, but you're not as fast and by the finish line you're tired.
Some unplug by participating in digital fasts and specifying a time of the week during which technology is prohibited. Common Sense Media suggests a #DeviceFreeDinner, where no technology is allowed around the dinner table.
In addition to digital fasts, you can also establish areas of your home where devices are not allowed. This can be a bedroom, family room or even a time of day where everyone is off technology. Common Sense Media suggests a #DeviceFreeDinner, where no technology is allowed around the dinner table.
Browsing online is sometimes like being sucked down a black hole. One minute you're on your Facebook feed, the next minute you're watching a TV show, then reading an article, then checking your bank account until you forget what you were doing in the first place!
Having a place to store content, articles, posts etc. can help you stay focused on the task at hand.Some popular offline reading lists are Pearltrees, Pocket or utilizing the Reading Lists or Favorites List on your browser.
When you find yourself continually spending hours on a site or app, you may want a Blocker. Blockers are set up to block specific programs or websites on certain days during certain hours that you can set yourself.
Some popular ones include Freedom, Self-Control or Focus Me. Some blockers, like Freedom, can block sites during specific hours. Other websites, like Cold-Turkey, go a step further and will lock your whole computer at certain times.
Browser extensions add additional features to your browser. If you find yourself spending too long online, these extensions can help you focus.
Noisli is an extension that creates background noise on your computer to drown out any distractions in your workspace. Stay Focusd is a free Google Chrome extension that limits your activity on "time-wasting" sites and it even has a nuclear option where you create a rule or setting that even you can't turn off.
Tab blockers restrict the number of tabs or windows you have on your computer at one time. If you find yourself rapidly moving from tab to tab and not completing tasks, try a browser extension to limit the number of tabs you have open. Firefox has MaxTabs and Google Chrome has TooManyTabs, both of which are free.
At the end of the day, the best way to focus and cut down on distractions is utilizing the most sophisticated technology we have: our brain.
"We regularly overlook our own power to control and direct our thoughts, feelings and behaviors by believing we need to outsource this to apps," said Jocelyn Brewer, a psychologist who created the concept of Digital Nutrition.
Meditation can be a great way to reset the brain and focus on building self-control. According to Dr. Frank Lipman of Be Well, participating in activities that don't require technology (like yoga or hiking) can help detox the brain.
And the best part of this resource is it requires no battery, download or fee.