Trying to Stay Off Your Phone? Turn the Screen Grayscale

an iPhone screen with activated grayscale filter
Jason Fitzpatrick

Looking for a way to reduce the use of your smartphone? Make your phone boring and boring by turning the screen in grayscale. It's amazingly effective.

For years, we've been hearing about reducing distraction on your smartphone by changing the screen from the default color state to a more boring (and resolutely dystopian) gray scale. Frankly, it seemed like one of those things that sounded good on paper but in practice was surely a waste of time. Seemed, until we tried.

Smartphones are, to say the least, colorful. The games, the social media applications, the very interface, are all so bright and cheerful. The games are cleverly designed with pleasant and vibrant colors. Notifications are slightly tinged with red to catch your eye. The icons themselves, arranged on the home screen, are attractive in themselves. Just looking at the bright red Todoist icon makes us want to open it and game apps always have a special appeal.

But, surprisingly enough, when we flipped our gray screen, the phone seemed so dull. Alerts seemed more urgent – look at the screen shot above; there is nothing urgent about these alerts. Many time-consuming games are virtually impossible to play without color references. When everything is black, white or a shade of gray, it takes a very utilitarian mood, and you'll probably end up, as we did, using an application exactly the time you need to do your job, then put down your phone .

If you're using an iPhone, you can turn on the grayscale filter by selecting Settings> General> Accessibility> View Accommodations> Color Filters. If you're using an Android device, the method will vary depending on your device (and you may need to even activate Developer Mode to do it), but it's usually, like on iPhones, in the Accessibility menu.

Turn on the greyscale of your phone forever is it a viable solution? May be. If you think you really want to live with a monotone smartphone to defeat the distraction, run with it. But perhaps it would be enough to leave your phone in a state "stolen by someone" all the colors of the rainbow for a week to help you create a new habit of taking less of time on the phone.

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