We're all addicted to those little pieces of glass that sit in our pockets and bags (and, too often, on the dinner table). It's just a fact. But that doesn't mean you have to give in to the constant temptation without a fight. There are piles of apps for both iOS and Android that help ease the pain, turning off your phone's most distracting features and rewarding you for time spent away from the screen.
Of course, nothing works as well as turning off your phone. But we are humans; we are weak. Acknowledging that, and the irony of these apps, here are five of our favorites:
Instead of manipulating an individual feature or two, Flipd completely takes over your smartphone. It replaces your lock screen with something more basic, offers easy auto replies for text messages, and lets you build a list of emergency contacts in case you really need to make that call. The whole system can be turned on in spurts up to 12 hours long. You can even lock other people's phones to keep your kids in check (or your screen-addicted significant other). Right now it's Android only, but an iOS version is on the way. Free
Taking a slightly more kid-glove approach is Moment, which tracks how much you're using your phone and tablet, creating a pastel timeline of your daily screen-gazing. You can monitor how many minutes you spend staring at each device, how many times you pick it up, and whether or not you're meeting your goals. If you want, you can even have Moment deter usage after you enter the red zone by giving you constant alerts that make checking e-mail so tedious you'll give up. From $5
It's time to get specific. Really specific. AppDetox lets you tailor your mobile usage to keep you on task when you need to focus and to let you roam free when it's time to chill out. You can restrict Facebook during business hours while leaving Outlook totally untouched. Conversely, you could always turn your work e-mail off for the weekend—dare to dream. Settings are really flexible, letting you manage the number of times an app can be opened, what times it can be used, and how much time you can sink into it. Free
Sometimes you want to filter out the unnecessary, rather than cutting your connection altogether. Offtime lets you block out contacts you want to ignore and restrict the apps that are cutting into your productivity, all while displaying your results in easy-to-read charts and tiles. It also keeps track of notifications you're missing due to restrictions, so you can address them later. The only downside is that the app is so beautiful you may want to stare at it for way too long, defeating the purpose altogether. Free with paid business options
Screen Time Control
OK, Screen Time Control might be a parental control app, but you can use it to keep yourself in line too. It limits your overall time using the device but also gives granular readouts of what apps you're using most, what you're opening constantly, and how your behavior changes over time. The interface is colorful and makes it easy to turn the controls on and off as you need them. You might have the passwords, but no cheating once you hit the go button. Free