— Mobile

How to Block Your Phone from Interrupting You

Sometimes, you need to get stuff done — that budget spreadsheet, your novel, or even a nap — but your smartphone insists on distracting you with notifications, texts, or the pull of social media. The Do Not Disturb setting can temporarily stifle interruptions when you need quiet time or a mental break. Still, recent versions of Android and Apple’s new iOS 15 include a more flexible Focus mode with other tools for concentration. Here’s a quick guide.

Find Your Focus

In Android 12, look for the Digital Wellbeing icon in your app drawer. If you don’t see it, open the Settings icon and select Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls; you can download the app, too. For the hands-free approach, say, “OK, Google, open the Digital Wellbeing settings.”

The Android 12, left, and iOS 15 operating systems include a Focus mode to help minimize distractions from your phone or tablet. Credit…Google; Apple


On an Apple device running iOS 15, open the Settings icon and scroll to Focus; saying, “Hey, Siri, open my Settings” works, too. On the Focus screen, you’ll see that the old Do Not Disturb setting has moved in, and you have a button to share your settings across other Apple devices, including Macs.

Block Interruptions

On Android’s Digital Wellbeing screen, tap Focus Mode. Choose the Set a Schedule option to block out the timeout you need from your phone. Select the programs you’d like to disable in the “Your distracting apps” list when Focus Mode is on. (The Manage Notifications controls in the Digital Wellbeing settings let you decide what types of alerts you get in the first place.)

Return to the leading Digital Wellbeing screen to temporarily silence most calls and select Do Not Disturb. (Some Android phones have a Flip to Shhh setting, which puts your phone right into Do Not Disturb when you place it screen-side down.) tap the People option and choose the contacts allowed to bother you when you have Do Not Disturb enabled; you can do the same for apps and turn off alarms.

The iOS 15 Focus settings provide several scenarios (Work, Personal, and so on) to configure and customize based on the situation. You can set a timed schedule for each focus category or automatically activate it by location. For example, your “Home” Focus settings pause your Slack notifications and work email when you arrive at your apartment. (If you’re working from home, use the schedule timer instead.) Tap a category and select the apps and people who can interrupt you; contacts can see your Focus status displayed in the Messages app.

Tap the plus icon on the main Focus screen to set up even more situations, like when you want uninterrupted reading time; you can even have Reading Focus kick in when you open your e-book app. If you don’t want to automate things, swipe to the Control Center screen and tap Focus to cloak or decloak yourself from the world.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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