We’re living in an age of endless distractions. It can be perilously hard to focus on a single productive task with so many apps, social networks, and games at our fingertips.
Yes, we kind of are blaming our iPhones here. And yes, we know we’re in the business of talking up those very same distractions. Thankfully, there’s a way to square this particular circle: download some more apps.
The following apps are designed to help eliminate those dastardly distractions in four very different ways.
Bear Focus Timer ($1.99/£1.99)
Focus timers are a great way to break your day into manageable (or ‘actionable’ if you prefer management-speak terminology) chunks, and Bear Focus Timer is the most charming we’ve encountered. It uses the popular Pomodoro method in combination with white noise to help keep you on track. It won’t even work unless your phone is face down, thus ensuring you’re not tempted to check your social media or play another round of Peglin. When you do flip that phone over, you’ll be confronted by charming hand-drawn bears and gorgeous fonts.
If Bear Focus Timer’s white noise isn’t for you, but you like the sound of a meditative audio app, check out Melodist. It starts by loading up one of your personal photos, then it blurs that photo out and composes a unique ambient melody based on the unique formations of colours and hues from the original image. It’s a great way to zone out in a way that a more structured or familiar song won’t allow. There’s also a sleep timer function, so you can fall asleep to the blissful noise.
iA Writer ($49.99/£49.99)
If writing forms part of your daily life, consider ditching Pages or Word and downloading a writing app that strips things back. You’ll be amazed how much clarity it can bring. iA Writer has been one of our favourite apps for some years now. Indeed, this very feature was written in iA Writer for Mac. It’s a markup-based writing tool that offers one of the cleanest, most distraction-free writing environments around. It also features a dedicated Focus Mode, which zooms in on your current line and fades out everything else.
One Sec ($3.99/£3.49 per month)
Perhaps the biggest source of distraction in the modern world is social media, not to mention apps and the internet in general. That’s why a breed of apps has emerged that will block access to these time wasters. One Sec is one of the smartest we’ve seen, using Shortcuts to intervene whenever you attempt to open an app like Twitter. These interventions are pretty imaginative, taking the form of breathing exercises, physical activities, and other novel points of friction that might just stop you from reaching out to check your feed.