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In a typical 8-hour day, how many hours do you spend actually being productive? If you’re anything like the average worker, it’s probably a lot less than you would like to admit. Two separate studies – one carried out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (US) and another by Voucher Cloud (UK) – both find the average worker spends just two hours and 53 minutes being productive during an 8-hour day.

Even if we round this up to three hours per day, this still means most of us are spending more than five hours per day, over 25 per week and more than 100 hours every munch underachieving. The problem with an iPhone being a window to the world is that there are in fact many, many windows. So, sure, it’s amazing you can use your iPhone to instantly get to email, Slack, office documents, and the entirety of the internet. But when you want to focus on a single task, everything else installed on your phone is ready to distract you.

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Screen Time is flexible. You can have it block – or set daily limits for – entire app categories, individual apps or specific websites. Once your time allocation is reached, your device displays a warning. You can then quit the app, ask for another minute or 15 minutes, or disable the limit for the day.

Should you require further refinement, you can define downtime periods that let only specific apps through, set certain apps and contacts to always be available, and use Screen Time to determine app/game access for children in your family group. Screen Time is powerful, yet easy to use. However, its wealth of options means you need to spend time with the system and experiment to get the best from it. If you’re OK with that initial busywork, consider using Screen Time alongside Focus, which can fine-tune visible apps, mailboxes and calendars, depending on the context you’re in.

Set-up requires Shortcuts – you create an automation that triggers One Sec when a named app is launched. If that sounds onerous, it isn’t. The process takes barely a minute and One Sec has a tutorial to lead you through it.

In One Sec itself, you’ll find a range of intervention types if you don’t like the default breathing exercise: following a dot; rotating your device; guilting you by turning your phone into a ‘mirror’ when you launch a naughty app. Scheduling allows you to define when One Sec asserts itself, one useful option being for a defined period after waking up. One Sec is effective, although be mindful much of its functionality (including handy options like intentional app switching) sits behind a subscription. But you can at least try the basics against one app for free.

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