You have your work in front of you, a cup of coffee on your desk, some gentle tunes without words playing on the stereo and you’re ready to do some work. Your phone buzzes, and 90 minutes later you look up filled with self-loathing and regret. Your coffee is cold, the cursor on your Word document is blinking at you mockingly and you wonder what the hell happened. Unpluq is a little NFC tile that helps you lock and unlock your phone with mindfulness, to avoid distractions.
The company started with a Kickstarter project about a year ago, when it sold about $10,000 worth of products. It recently started shipping regularly, and can be bought for $50 or so.
The idea is simple; if you have to use a “key” to unlock the apps that distract you, it means that you have to make an active decision to use your phone to unlock, say, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or my personal “Jesus, where did that hour go?” — hip hop dance videos on TikTok.
Initially, I was torn by the device. Do we really need more plastic stuff? My Android phone has a bunch of “focus mode” type features already. The problem is turning them off is a tap on the phone, and it’s too easy to “just quickly check” something and lose an hour. By adding a physical element to the process, it means you can lock your phone and chuck the Unpluq tile to another corner of the room. Now, getting to Instagram means you have to get up, root through the dust-bunnies under the sofa and touch your phone to the bright yellow tile. It sounds stupid, but it works.
Is it worth increasing your climate impact and deducting $50 from your bank balance? It depends how ADHD you are, I suppose, but I admit this dumb little yellow tile has become a partner in me getting things — including this article, which I’ve been meaning to write for weeks — done.