For many many reasons over the past 18-months, I’ve become acutely aware of the impact my phone has on my mental health. More specifically, it’s the effect apps and notifications have on your mental wellbeing. I’ve dramatically dialled back my usage of several apps and feel all the better because of it. I’ve been testing out the iOS 15 Beta on my iPhone 12 and, for the very reason of my own mental wellbeing, I love it.
What Is Focus Mode?
The idea of Focus Mode, as is so often the case, first appeared on Android 10 within your Digital Wellbeing settings. You decide which apps you typically find most distracting and when Focus Mode is active, you’re told the app is paused. Of course, you can bypass that but the more important development with Focus Mode was the silencing of notifications. For years, phone and app makers have been engineering technology to make you pick your device up. Now, reducing your usage and having more meaningful phone usage is the goal.
Focus Mode For iOS 15
We need to talk about Apple’s take on Focus Mode separately because it’s very different and much better. The feature will roll out with the new iPhone launch as this is when the new iOS gets released too. Apple is positioning this as offering “less distraction” when using your phone. This is largely down to the addition of customisable home screens based on your selected Focus Mode. Out of the box, you’ll get some of the basic modes like:
- Do Not Disturb
For me, the real power of this mode comes from making my own custom modes. This is due to a combination of notification management but also the built-in automation that Apple has added into the mix.
I’ve created my own focus modes, including:
- Out and About
My Home focus mode triggers based on location. This means, when I get home all my email notifications are disabled but I can still receive Signal messages from family and friends. I also get easy access to my smart home controls and other apps I use, typically while sitting on the couch. I love the automation aspect of this feature as I can trigger my phone’s behaviour based on time, location, app usage or just let Apple’s built-in smarts decide what’s best.
Once I leave the location, my phone defaults to “out and about” mode. Now, Google Maps, Dublin Bikes and my Wallet app along with weather take priority. When in the Gym, it’s all about my fitness apps and music along with just my closest family being allowed to contact me.
Benefits of Focus Mode
For me, the big benefit of Focus Mode is a real feeling of taking control back of my own phone. As I said, for years the idea for app and phone makers was to make me use my phone as much as possible. Now, I’m able to choose what apps I use more or less and when. You’d be amazed how less you check Twitter when the app isn’t sitting there. You might unlock your phone to read a message and just tap into Twitter for a second. Two hours later, your day is gone.
I’ve dramatically reduced my wasted time on my phoneFocus Mode does help.
Combined with my Screen Time controls over my social media usage, I’ve dramatically reduced my wasted time on my phone.
But this setup also means you get to make more of the time you have with your phone. Creating a social focus mode means you can quickly get through all your platforms if you want to. I’ve also created “Morning”. I’m sure there are loads of smarter people out there who’ll tell me you shouldn’t look at your phone first thing but I do. RTÉ News, Twitter, TikTok, Weather and Email. All of these happen as I wake up. So now, my phone has a home screen for just these apps, set to show between 7 am and 9 am.
Apple’s Focus Mode will launch soon with iOS 15. It also supports cross-device functionality if you have iPhone, Mac or iPad.