How to Gain Control of Your Distraction Box (iPhone)

I’ve been experimenting with a few iPhone and computer hacks in order to reduce the amount of time I waste on these devices.  Here’s what I’ve done.

For my computer I have installed a program called  With this program I’m able to block certain websites for specific periods of time.  This has allowed me to block specific social media sites and the sports related websites I used to waste far too much time on.  It’s working very well.  It’s impossible to access these sites during the work periods I set.  So, for my computer, this is the best solution I have found.

Screen Time

And while does work on my iPhone it’s very limited.  It only works in Safari and apps cannot be blocked.  So, at least for me, it’s pretty much useless.

The good news is the latest iOS software comes with something called Screen Time.  To access it simply go to Settings > Screen Time.

Once here you can see how much time you waste, I mean spend, on your iPhone.  And if you click on the time from that first screen you can drill down for more details.

I just took a screen shot of my current Screen Time situation.  Today I have spent 1 hour and 7 minutes on my phone… and towards the bottom you can see what I used most (Messages, Gmail, and Chrome).

You can also set limits in Screen Time (and password protect if you want to do this for your kid’s phones).  I give myself 10 minutes to waste, I mean spend, on Facebook and 5 minutes on Instagram.  Once 10 minutes is up I am kicked off Facebook.  Easy as that.

And, honestly, now that I’ve done this for a few weeks I rarely come close to 10 minutes on Facebook so will likely reduce this time.  Perhaps I’ll even, gasp, remove Facebook from my phone!

iPhone Home Screen Configuration

Next, avoiding the near occasion of sin is obviously really smart.  Closely related to this is avoiding the near occasion of time distraction.  This is why I’ve reorganized the apps on my iPhone.  All the time suck apps (social media, etc.) are hidden inside a folder on a secondary screen.  The only things on my home screen are apps I want to use on a regular basis.

As you can see I have folders for work, listening, reading, and most importantly apps that help me to grow in holiness!  And since I do listen to a lot of podcasts I do have that app outside of the listen folder.

Going Gray

Finally, I’ve saved the best for last.  I’ve enabled the grayscale color filter on my iPhone.

I discovered this tip after reading this minimalist themed article that explained how phone makers spend A LOT of time and effort to make smart phone screens beautiful and bright to look at.  This is done on purpose since most of us like to look at things that are beautiful and colorful.

So, by enabling grayscale all the colors are gone making my phone less attractive to look at.

And let me just say… if you try this you’re going to hate me initially… but, if you persevere through the detox phase, you’ll thank me later.

Here’s how to enable it on an iPhone.

Settings > General > Accessibility
Tap Display Accommodations
Toggle Color Filters to On
Tap to check Grayscale

What About Maps?

The only thing I feel needs to be in color is the maps app since seeing green and red on the route is really important… at least to me.

So, I do turn color back on for this.  But since Apple buries this deep inside their distraction boxes I created a shortcut!  Now, all I have to do is press the side right button (or home button if you have one) 3 times to toggle color on and off.

Here’s how to create that short cut.

Settings > General > Accessibility
Scroll down to Accessibility Shortcut > select Color Filters

Calling all Android Users

Now, obviously I have an iPhone so can’t offer advice on how to do these same things on an Android device.  But, I am confident there is someone reading this right now that has an Android phone and wants to figure it out… so, if you do, please contact me so we can get that info on the website.

Exodus 90 Shout Out

Finally, I want to give a special shout out to all the men working through Exodus 90. Me and a few of my brothers are working through it with you.  And please know that you are definitely in our prayers especially since the Prince of Darkness hates you for it and will attack when you least expect it.  I even saw some hipster priest out of Pittsburgh bad mouthing Exodus 90 since, you know, asceticism and redemptive suffering are so yesterday.  St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, Pray for Us!