We all know that we use our phone far more often than we should. While previously it was for the sole intention of getting work done, now the situation has reversed. And what little time we spend doing our job, distractions in the form of phone notifications make us lose our focus and concentration.
I have been a victim of this for the longest time, all thanks to my habit of reading every thread on Twitter & Reddit and scanning all the latest uploads on Instagram.
Quite obviously, I went searching for ways to fight this addiction, and I landed on a few digital wellness apps that promised to fight this addiction. Ironical, I know.
What to Look in a Digital Wellness App
Initially, I was looking for an app that downright lets me know how much time I am spending on my phone, and more importantly, how much time I am wasting on it.
In short, they should give a glimpse of your screen time by analyzing your overall usage time, tracking your app usage, and the number of notifications received.
However, if you’re someone like me who has moved beyond that point, it’s better to look for stricter apps, that lets you block certain apps or app notifications altogether.
But above all, your app should bundle a downtime feature that effectively signals you when to wind down for the night.
Now, that we have established the basics, let’s see some of the apps.
1. Your Hour
My first experiment was with Your Hour. This one adopts a passive way of telling you about your phone habits. As soon as you unlock your phone, Your Hour starts a timer to track your usage. On top of it, the timer for individual apps is independent of the main timer.
All these are done with the hope that once you see the timer running, you’ll use your phone more responsibly. Also, while you set up the app, it’ll ask you to set your usage goals.
Plus, it collects your past usage data and shows you your addiction level. The app seems to think that mine is still Moderate, thank God.
Apart from that, Your Hour app gives you a basic overview of your app usage time. Plus, it also displays the unlock count, among others.
The best part is you can create little challenges to test your commitment level to digital wellness. There are simple challenges like staying away from the phone for an hour or not using a specific app for a particular time limit among others.
The bottom line is Your Hour doesn’t do much except for making you realize to be a bit more responsible about your phone habits.
My second experiment was with ActionDash which has almost the same features as the Digital Wellbeing module found in Pixel phones.
ActionDash is all about examining how you spend time on your phone. It analyzes your usage patterns, which app you use frequently, how much time you spend on each one, among many other things.
All that information is shown to you in visually appealing graphs. Whether it’s your weekly usage or your daily usage, you can find everything about your phone habits here.
But at the end of the day, ActionDash can only get you so far. It can give you subtle hints about your screen time and your usage habits, but when it comes to acting on them, alas, it can’t do much.
As they say, it is all about realizing how you spend time on your phone (and not how much). If you do realize that, it’s well and good. But if not, you may want to look at the following app.
3. Stay Focused
Are you someone who needs something more than simple notifications about your screen time? If yes, meet Stay Focused.
As the name implies, this one helps you focus better by letting you set usage time per app. For instance, you can limit your Netflix usage to just 30 minutes per day. And if you want to take it a little further, you can even set the days when you want the access blocked.
The feature that I love about Stay Focused is the Number of Launches option. If you’re reading this article, you must already know how many times we open and reopen certain apps in a day. This particular feature helps to fight it by setting up a time limit. Once you have surpassed it, you can bid goodbye to it for the day.
Like Action Dash, Stay Focused also gives you a visual representation of your daily usage. So, if you find an app that is eating your time, you know what to do.
By far, Daywise is one of the few apps that I found to be working in my favor. Unlike the apps above, this one doesn’t block apps altogether or show you a graph of your phone usage. Instead, it collectively blocks app notifications and shows them to you in batches later.
The app lets you segregate apps based on their importance. Once you’ve picked the ones you need, you can push the rest to the Batch Queue, and lay to rest worries about annoying notifications.
When the time comes, the app will notify you about the missed notifications. To view them, simply open the app.
I have been using this app for quite some time, and needless to say, my phone usage has gone down drastically. Now there’s no one to notify me time and again about Instagram DMs or my Twitter activity. And even if I unlock my phone on, the empty notification tray pushes me to keep it locked.
The app has many customizable settings. You can configure both the apps and the timing as well.
5. Color Breeze
Using the phone before bedtime is common practice for a lot of us. You’d be scrolling through endless loops of Reddit threads or going through Amazon listings, and before you know, you’d have wasted precious amounts of time.
Color Breeze attempts to solve this painting your screen in shades of grey. It’s a simple app where you need to enter the time and day, and the app will take care of the rest.
The only slightly complicated issue is that this app will run when you grant permissions via ADB. Follow the below steps to get this app working.
Step 1: Go to your phone’s settings, scroll down to System, and locate Build Number. Tap the Build Number seven times to activate Developer Settings.
Step 2: Once done, enable the option for USB debugging (under Developer options).
Step 4: If you do not have ADB installed, download and install the Minimal ADB and Fastboot on your PC.
Once the program is installed, a command window will open automatically.
Step 5: Now, plug your phone to the PC and type the following command on the command window.
This will show the list of available device.
Next, type the following command, and that’s it.
adb shell pm grant com.reverp.colorbreeze android.permission.WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS
Step 4: Now open the app and you’ll see a small checkbox saying Enable Color Breeze.
Tap on Settings to customize it further.
I know, the steps may sound a bit complicated for a simple app. But trust me, you will keep your phone down on your own when you see the screen painted grey.
Take a Break!
The next time you feel an insane urge to unlock your phone and go on scrolling spree, you can take a walk instead. Trust me, and it will be worthwhile (except when you are in the metro and commuting to work).
Do try these digital wellness apps and let us know which one is more suited to your needs.
Next up: Do you often forget to take breaks? If yes, let the following Chrome extension help you stay fit.
Last updated on 03 February, 2022
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