Stop that half-conscious Insta-scrolling, right now! If you want an extra nudge to use your phone for good rather than evil, these are the apps you need…
Rather than staring at gurning faces on Facebook, Pause invites you to peer at a gloopy blob, which you track with a finger. You then close your eyes and continue moving your digit mindfully, until a bell goes ding, telling you to stop. You’ll look ridiculous thoughtfully caressing your phone, but the app really does help you to regain focus and relax.
R80 / iOS
Determined to infuse good habits into your daily routine? Then don’t let reminders get lost in the hubbub of calendars and to-do lists – use Streaks instead. Its six gigantic buttons provide a clear view of your intentions, and when you want data you can delve into exciting wiggly graphs… assuming you haven’t let them all flatline.
Bear Focus Timer
R7 / iOS
Can’t go for five minutes without checking your phone? BFT offers a cunning psychological trick: its focus timer only works when you put your phone face-down. You can customise noise/break lengths and which ambient sound plays when you’re focusing. Best of all, try to sneak a cheeky peek at your screen and the bear will angrily growl at you.
If you want ongoing pats on the back for not using your phone when you should be doing more important things, try Forest. Make it to the end of a timed work cycle and you’ll get a little tree to plant in a virtual forest. But cheat and ignore the app’s warnings, and Forest mercilessly kills your plant, leaving only a sad little dead stick.
Free / Android
In the land of Android, Loop broadly echoes Streaks in having you track habits and goals, and see how you’ve done over time. You don’t get massive friendly buttons, but Loop does have a five-day checkbox grid that’s insanely easy to understand. So now you’ve no excuse to not exercise/walk the dog/get up early/learn to play the banjo.
Android P and iOS 12 allow you to track phone usage, but aren’t interested in you crowing about your efforts. Go ‘pro’ by installing Space, and you’ll be able to compare statistics with friends. Even with the free version you get tips and achievements, although the app sadly won’t blast your phone into orbit if you whizz past your app allowance for the fifth time this week.