Like many modern information workers, my personal phone serves many purposes. This is how I communicate with friends and family. This is how I experience entertainment. This is how I navigate through a city. So I buy my morning coffee. That's how I control countless smart home devices. and so on. It's also critically important how I do my job by keeping up to date with the never-ending news cycle and communicating via slack and email with my colleagues and other contacts.
Managing the dual use of my phone has always been a challenge. It's all too easy to just open Twitter or Slack on a Saturday while I'm queuing up to pay for groceries, or wait for my kid to finish brushing, and then into a whirlpool of work-related stuff To get involved in activities. The various timeline functions of Apple and Google also did not help. Sure, they let me set a timer for how long I'm allowed to use Slack or Twitter on any given day, but what if I do not want to use it on the weekends at all? The same goes for other methods, like deleting the apps every weekend and reinstalling them on Monday, which causes their own problems and headaches.
ActionDash, an app for Android phones that transfers Google's digital well-being features to older phones and extends those features to phones that already have digital well-being, introduces a new feature designed specifically for these issues. With the latest version of ActionDash, I can set specific time blocks that prevent the phone from starting or using the apps I've specified. If I also use Action Launcher, the app icons on my home screen will dimm. This gives me another visual indication that the app is being blocked before I even try to open it.
If I try to open an app that's ActionDash displays a graph showing how much time was spent in the app in the last week, and tells me when the current block timer expires (at which point I) can use the app again). If I want to overwrite the block, I have to go into ActionDash's settings and disable it after waiting 1
This new scheduling in focus mode can also be used during the workday to block distracting apps like Instagram or Twitter. But I found it most useful to stay away from the clock during the hours when I was not supposed to work. Last weekend I was able to stay away from Slack and Twitter for the entire weekend as ActionDash shook my hand every time I tried to open the app. After a few hours of digital scolding, I even stopped responding to Twitter's reaction each time I unlocked my phone and either found something else to do or just use my phone for what I had to do – and walked on without me in social media to deepen feeds or work products.
On Monday morning, the focus mode schedule expired, and I was able to access Slack and Twitter on my phone again, as these are important tools during my working day. In the evening another focus mode timer was activated, and I was not allowed to use Slack or Twitter when I was supposed to be relieved of work to spend time with my family.
Sure, this kind of programmed babysitting feels a bit like a band helping to a bigger problem, but it's the first real solution to tackling those problems that has proven to be useful to my needs. I'm not really interested in using my phone less or making it harder for me to do things that I do not use. I just want to avoid using the phone at work when I do other things. ActionDash's focus mode conveniently switches my phone automatically from working mode to live mode.
The timing of Focus mode can be improved. To make a weekend block, I had to program two different timers – one for Friday night and one for the whole day, Saturday and Sunday. I also can not disable different apps at different times. Focus mode will only block the same apps if it's on. One option, for example, blocking Instagram during the workday and then Slack at night would be nice. While ActionDash has some nice integrations with Action Launcher, it does not work so well with other app starters, like the default starter on your phone or any other third-party option.
When you're there Yet Action Dash's new focus mode makes it easy to balance work and family with an Android phone. The app is available for free from an in-app purchase of $ 6.99 to unlock all features.
To set up the new focus mode scheduler:
- Download ActionDash from the Google Play Store and give it access to the appropriate permissions.
- Open ActionDash and tap the focus mode banner.
- Create or enable the timeline schedules in which to disable the apps. If you want to create a block for a whole weekend, including Friday evenings, you'll need to create two separate timers.
- Select which apps should be disabled during the lockout period.
You can also manually trigger focus mode from the ActionDash dashboard or a quick-settings toggle button in the notification bar.
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