Focus Mode and Digital Wellbeing on Google Android 10 – Managing distractions

In this article I will briefly share the use of Focus Mode and Digital Wellbeing on Google Android 10, a marginal gain when it comes to increasing your productivity. In the highly connected world with a dozen of communication channels it is easy to become distracted, which is killing for your productivity.

Luckily the distracting technology can also work in our advantage with help of Focus Mode on Google Android 10 and Focus Assist on Windows 10.

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Focus Mode and Digital Wellbeing on Google Android 10

Focus Mode on Google Android is part of Google Digital Wellbeing which helps us to use digital technology in a healthy way. The biggest productivity killer are distractions. When you can work in appropriate blocks of time to create your valuable product, and can work on it in one go, than you are the most productive.

If you can avoid distracting notifications of the various apps, it perfectly makes sense to use the Focus Mode on Google Android.

Digital Wellbeing for Google Android

So let’s have a look at the Digital Wellbeing App on my Nokia 8 Sirocco running Google Android 10. When you open the App you will see different headings (in blue), that give a major break down with settings.

  1. Digital Wellbeing Tools
  2. Ways to disconnect
  3. Reduce interruptions
  4. Other

I’ve personally added the other heading, because the last two Google Wellbeing features are not categorized. πŸ™‚ Now we go into the details.

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  • Digital Wellbeing Tools (pie chart with distribution of screen time);

Digital Wellbeing – Ways to disconnect

  • Dashboard (and timers for specific apps);
  • Bedtime mode;
  • Focus Mode;

As you can see in the screenshots above the Digital Wellbeing app starts with an overview with data how your use your Android smartphone. Not just the distribution of screen-time per app, but also the number of unlocks and notifications. When I looked at the notifications I was blown away. Therefore the “manage/ notifications” feature will become helpful.

In the dashboard setting you will get a bargraph with -default- the total screentime. You could change the graph by showing the notifications received or the times opened. By clicking on an app you can set a timer. This means you have a number of minutes each day to use the app, after which the app will be blocked. From the specific app dashboard you can also manage the notifications.

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Bedtime mode does two things: (1) enabling the do not disturb mode, so the screen won’t turn on, the notifications and buzz sounds won’t be there. And (2) the screen can be set-up for a grayscale mode. Although I’m using the Google Android Dark Mode as system default as will as the nightlight setting to minimize the blue light that keeps the brain awake.

Finally the focus mode setting. You can select the distracting apps from a list, by simply checking boxes after the app name. These are the apps you will mark as distracting, which will be blocked/turned off while enabling the focus mode. In practice, these app icons will be gray and can only be opened for a 5 minute timeslot or when you take a break in the focus mode (5,10 or 15 minutes). In addition you can set a schedule for the focus mode. I’ve set it 9:00-17:00 hrs during weekdays. Honestly I can see the decrease of screentime and an increase in getting work done. πŸ˜‰

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Digital Wellbeing – Reduce interruptions

  • Manage notifications
  • Do Not Disturb

Notifications are distracting. In Microsoft Outlook and the Windows 10 action center I had these disabled as much as possible for a long time. Google Digital Wellbeing easily allows you to enable or disable app notifications (per app) from a central location. Switch the slider for an app and you are good to go.

Do not disturb is a mode to mute your device. It has a lot of granularity to fine-tune exceptions to your preferred way of being available. For family and close friends you will probably be more available than an anonymous caller. So you can create a sort of rules or policies to converge the amount of traffic to your smartphone. In all fairness this could be an additional layer of keeping distractions away, but the focus mode is now more than sufficient. Also see the link to Do Not Disturb in the bed time mode.

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And other … There are two additional Google Digital Wellbeing features. First a slider to have the Google Digital Wellbeing App in the list with apps. So you can access it from your apps, and not through the settings. And finally you can set-up Parental controls, to limit screen and apptime on your kids phones. My daughter is 4 years old, so I don’t need this feature yet.

  • Show icon in the app list
  • Parental controls


Focus Assist on Windows 10

“Focus assist gives you the flexibility to choose when to block interruptions. Turn on Focus assist whenever you want to get things done without distractions, like notifications, sounds, and alerts. Or set Focus Assist to turn on automatically at certain times during the day.”

As you can read on the Windows Experience Blog, Windows 10 also has the Focus Assist feature, that work very similar to the Focus Mode on Google Android. By default I always disabled Microsoft Outlook notifications (in the application settings) while doing presentations. But this is a step-up in the game and can be an important productivity hack. πŸ™‚

Although I must admit that on my Lenovo ThinkPad T490 I have less distractions, simply because I keep those distracting applications and websites closed. There is also and article on “How to Disable Windows 10’s Annoying Focus Assist Notifications“.

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Concluding thoughts and wrap-up

A smartphone is the remote control to almost every service available ad thus a super convenient piece of technology. However it is also a major productivity killer of you don’t use it in a disciplined way.

Focus Mode on Google Android 10 is more and more becoming my friend, simply because it keeps those distractions with on screen notifications and buzzes away, unless I decide to take a break and use an app for 5 minutes. By default I’ve scheduled Focus Mode from 9:00 – 17:00 hrs, while I can manually decide to use certain apps. Measuring screen time, I noticed a decline in app use. I’ve also heard people uninstalling their top 3 apps with the most screen-time. πŸ™‚ I think the focus mode is more user friendly.

Focus Assist on Windows 10 uses similar concepts to increase productivity and decrease distractions. However I’ve minimized notifications in Microsoft Outlook already. But when it comes to increasing productivity, you simply need to schedule stuff and stay consistent in not letting distractions take over. So social media and e-mail you would ideally like to schedule. While I like the Focus Assist feature on Windows 10, even more value can be gained from building or expanding productivity-habit-systems. πŸ˜‰

I’m curious to learn if you use any of these focus features on smartphone, tablet or laptop? Interested in other software reviews, please check out this page.




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