Phones are pervasive and addictive—and much of that problem is fundamental in their design. With a rapidly expanding and interconnected world, there’s a fundamental need to remain “plugged-in” at all times.

Many of our jobs require us to be on-call or otherwise need us to return information quickly and reliably. For others, work is completed completely online—and cell phones may be the only way for a boss to come into contact with their employee.

So in many ways, it’s a requirement for a cell phone to be in close quarters at all times. What is not a requirement, however, is the time we spent using these devices.

With the popularization of push notifications and alerts, the more applications you keep on your phone, the more likely you are to be inundated with information that isn’t essential to your work and your ability to complete it.

These distractions can pray on even the most diligent of people. Regardless of your fidelity to procrastination, much of the time, these notifications are unavoidable and distraction.

That’s why many people are finding ways to keep their cell phones both close at hand, and out of reach.

A cell phone lock box is a popular way to make sure that you’re focused 100% on the task at hand and avoiding unnecessary distraction. Most are as simple as they sound—utilizing a locking mechanism that keeps your phone from you as long as you allow it to.

A time lock safe is a similar device to the cell phone lock box, but as the name implies, will release your phone only after a certain amount of time has passed.

We’ll be going over the best ways to use a cell phone lock box, tips for keeping you productive and undistracted, and hopefully developing a smarter way to work.

Timed Lock Boxes & The DistractaGone

Most of the currently available lock boxes utilize a simple design.

These small boxes are often designed to hold between one and four phones at a time. Once you’ve loaded them inside, the box with either lock automatically or ask you to set an amount of time to keep the box locked.

Afterward, provided the manufacturer used a sturdy enough material, accessing your phone will be next to impossible.

One of the more popular options available for a cell phone lock box is the DistractaGone. As a product of Kickstarter, the DistractaGone was crowd-funded by hundred of consumers interested in a box that worked simply and make sure cell phones were out of reach of those who did not need them.

While the company was not successful in securing funding, the public awareness of cell phone lock boxes and similar devices increased dramatically after the Kickstarter campaign.

However, for some consumers, the idea of a total lack of access to their phones may pose logistical and personal problems.

How Secure Should a Box Be?

Given the nature of a cell phone lock box, most models will not allow you to access the phone either without a special code. In some cases, there is no workaround whatsoever. If you need your phone for an emergency or otherwise, you simply won’t be able to access it.

That’s why you need to give special attention to the functionality of your box, and whether or not a completely inaccessible system is right for your needs.

If you’re using the cell phone box to discipline children or on devices that are considered nonessential, purchasing one without a workaround might not be so bad. In some cases, purchasing a box may not be necessary—as locking your phone in a personal safe and placing the key far enough away works from essentially the same concept.

It will all come down to your struggle with cell phones and distracting devices.

Searching for a timed lock box with a special code or workaround may be important to your line of work or when a problem arises. However, knowing that code may create a situation in which the box is rendered ineffective. While it’s preferable that the code only is used in case of an emergency, that is not always the case.

Questions and hypotheticals like those above may seem like overthinking a simple and effective concept. However, it is important not to underestimate both the pervasive power of distraction and the need for technology in everyday life.

When To Use A Lock Box

After you’ve determined the right box for you, it’s time to sort out exactly when a lock box needs to be used.

At the office, cell phones can be kept in lock boxes for practically the entire shift—although it may be wise to only lock away your phone for an hour or a half-hour at a time to make sure you haven’t missed an important deadline or meeting.

At home, the easiest time to lock away your phone is at dinnertime and during other familial events. If you’ve found a box that can hold multiple devices, consider keeping your entire family’s phones locked away while you eat your meal.

Lock boxes can also be used as a disciplinary tool for children. For minor infractions, you can place your child’s device in a lock box and determine an appropriate amount of time to keep the box sealed.

On the subject of using a lock box for disciplinary reasons—while these devices can certainly be used as such, we recommend being careful in how you implement the device in your home.

For instance, if you’ve purchased a lock box in the hope of keeping conversation flowing at the dinner table, you’ll have to apply that box equally to all devices—including your own.

Just one cell phone may be enough to distract or derail a perfectly good conversation—so don’t make the kids give up their devices. Yours needs management as well.

If you’re struggling to complete certain tasks or errands, using a lock box may help keep accountability or enforce a mild negative reinforcement.

For instance, you may consider placing your phone into a lock box and refusing to unlock it until the grass has been cut, or the dishes have been done.

Lock boxes are a great way to boost your productivity and enforce consequences—however trivial—on yourself for bad technological behavior. The only limit to their use is your creativity and ingenuity.

Phone Lock Box Pros and Cons

You've just gotten a lot of information about phone lock boxes. It may be hard to break it down and make your final decision about buying one. To help you out, here is a look at the pros and cons, broken down into simple lists.


  • Allows you to control device usage
  • Accessibility options for quick access in emergency
  • Small enough to take anywhere
  • Can help stop cell phone addiction issues
  • Great for parents to use with children


  • Boxes without codes prevent even emergency use
  • Knowing code may render box useless
  • Not many options on the market
  • May be difficult to find
  • Timers may only allow for set times options, such as 10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.
  • Larger phones may not fit in box

Beyond these pros and cons, keep in mind there are different types of phone lock boxes on the market. Some are novelty type boxes that do not really lock. Make sure when you shop to check reviews and product details so you get the box that has the right features and functions you want.

Final Thoughts

Despite being advertised as tools for any situation, cell phones can often become more of a bane on productivity than an aide.

While it could be easy to blame cell phones as a whole and work towards removing their influence from you completely, we would advocate for a more nuanced solution to the issue of distraction.

Cell phones are distracting, of course—but only as much as you allow them to be. If you only used your phone for work or other productive purposes, their effectiveness in getting tasks done make them far more valuable than rotary phones of the past.

Using a cell phone lock box isn’t necessarily needed to limit cell phone usage—but rather to limit negative phone usage. Forcing ourselves to focus on one task at a time by leaving our phones in the lock box will better train us to have a healthier relationship with technology.

So, if you’ve been dealing with a lack of productivity or an easy path down technological distraction, it might be worth investing in a cell phone lock box. Beyond that investment, however, needs to come discernment.

If you’ve purchased your box for your addictions, consider where your phone needs to be limited and where your phone is best helpful to your day. Deleting unnecessary apps and social media profiles may also further assist in your journey.

If you’ve purchased your box for your children, make sure the lesson learned is a good one—not that cell phones are bad in themselves, but that overindulgence in technology can cause further problems in life.

Simple and effective tools like the lock box are designed for us to reconsider the hierarchy of technological needs, and take a better look at where our time is going. That’s why it is far less important which box you purchase and far more important to remember why you considered purchasing one in the first place.

The more you learn about productive technological use and how to best minimize the use of your cell phone, the more likely lock boxes will become obsolescent on their terms. Bearing that in mind, whatever path you need to take to ensure you’re living your best life—take it.

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