I’ve had ‘Can “Distraction-Free” Devices Change the Way We Write?’ in my inbox to read for a while, and finally got around to digesting it in full.
While it was an entertaining read, it’s definitely one of those articles that fits the category “Any Headline Ending In A Question Mark Can Mostly Likely Be Answered With ‘No’”. And it felt to me too weighed on the techno-solutionism side.
I’m a very happy user of iA Writer, one of the apps mentioned in the article, and I used the Freedom app to help wean myself off of social media and other distractions several years ago. But not that I refer to Freedom in the past tense; eventually I got to a point where I no longer needed it because I was off social media entirely. And while I’ve looked at other apps and devices over the years since, I’ve resisted the urge to buy More Stuff or Different Stuff to help me focus.
Here is a secret that hides in plain sight, but is overlooked by far too many: the devices and apps we already own can be made less distracting, we just need to make the effort to throw the switches.
Too many notifications? Turn off the ones you don’t need, and make the rest wait until you’re ready to look at them. There are only a few that require your attention Right Now, trust me.
Too many temptations to procrastinate? Start by taking the apps off your device. You can’t time-waste if there’s no time-waster to tap and open. If that’s too big an ask, use Screen Time or some other means to restrict your usage of those apps. Be ruthless.
By all means buy something else if it’ll be better for your hands or eyesight. Your health and well-being are important and, in the long run, a lot more expensive to fix if they get damaged. But do your research before you click the big shiny ‘buy’ button, and make sure it’s the right option for you; don’t fall into the trap of buying because Other Folks Use It And Love It.