How to Curb Your Tech Addiction

If this title grabbed your attention, some part of you knows you’ve been on the internet a little too much this year. Maybe it’s time to do something about it?

Over the past few years, a few tricks have helped me dramatically reduce my technology use. It feels great to be more present in the world around me. If you haven’t decided on a New Years’ Resolution for 2017 yet, you’ll find some pretty good candidates in this article.

The holidays are a great time to reflect on just how addicted we’ve all become to our phones

1. No internet in the bedroom

Looking at your phone in bed is just awful. It disrupts your sleep, interrupts your dreams, and injects email/notification stress first thing in the morning. But it’s so hard to resist! Buying a simple alarm clock and removing all internet access from the bedroom is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There’s something nice about making a clear intentional decision about when I’m ready to wake up, and when I’m done with the day and ready for bed.

2. When at home, leave your phone plugged in to the wall

If you find yourself sitting at home with your phone scrolling through your feeds for hours on end, this one’s for you. I’ve forbidden myself from unplugging my phone from its charger at home. It’s almost like I have a tethered landline. If I want to check something, I can walk over to the desk and take a look, or I can sign in to my computer. But I can’t grab the phone and melt into the couch. This has really helped me spend my time at home doing things I care about.

3. Choose your apps wisely

The apps you put on your phone dramatically influence how you use it. Whenever I notice a certain app hijacking my attention away from the beautiful people and things around me, I experiment with deleting that app for a while. I’ve learned a few things about myself in this process:

  • educational apps tend to engage me when I want to be engaged, but they rarely steal my attention away automatically (Quora, Blinkist)
  • social apps — especially photo-driven ones — tend to pull my attention away from life with this insatiable need to capture everything (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Periscope)
  • social platforms are so powerful that even when I remove the apps, I eventually cheat by loading them in my browser (Chrome, Safari)

I change my apps around pretty often, but as of this moment, I don’t even have a web browser installed on my phone. It’s a strict information diet!

4. Control which sites you visit on your laptop

When you’re working or browsing the internet on your laptop, there’s a myriad of distractions competing to suck you in. There’s a wonderful Chrome extension called StayFocusd which lets you control your own access to whichever sites are distracting you. I use it to completely lock me out of Facebook, Twitter and Reddit every day between 7am and 12 noon. It’s amazing how much time I have for meditation and yoga in the mornings now. Outside of that window, I limit myself to only 10 minutes total on those websites. And on top of that, I use an extension called Kill News Feed which lets me use Facebook without ever seeing the black hole of time that is the news feed.

5. Use Checky or Moment to track phone use

Addictions often run below the level of awareness. We may not even realize how often we are checking our phone. That’s where some brilliant tools out there can help you self-regulate. If you’re on Android, try Checky. For Apple users, there’s a similar app called Moment. Both of them let you track how many times you’ve checked your device each day. When I first tried it, I was shocked to learn that I was checking my phone over 100 times a day! Becoming aware of that fact was a big step. With that awareness, along with the other tips I’ve mentioned above, now I’m down to checking my phone around 20 times a day.

You might think about skipping these tricks and simply choosing to use your technology less. Remember that these devices are designed to suck you in because your attention is worth money. In my experience, it takes a measure of active effort to resist the temptation. Why not give it a try?