Media addiction is when you check the same media sites over and over again regardless if any information is new. I’m talking about sites like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Medium and wherever your favorite news happens to come from.
Recently, a lot of people got sucked even deeper into media addiction because of politics. My friends in media are saying that their page views are soaring.
But, to be honest, I know most people a fairly serious media addiction long before politics got so heated.
So take back your life. Here are the steps.
#1. Set a media consumption budget
Did your parents ever limit your TV? I had one show I could watch every night and I thought very hard about making the best use of that slot.
You need to set a similar rule for your media consumption as an adult. How many minutes per day do you want to spend? What device are you going to use? When are you going to do this?
Most people would be best with two blocks of time:
- Right before lunch. You’re energy has probably wained already so you aren’t wasting productive time. Plus, postponing your first media binge until mid-day will allow you at least an entire morning of productivity.
- Right after work. You’re transitioning out of work and maybe you want to read things that you can discuss with your family. If you wait too late in the day, you will have trouble sleeping.
#2. Install BlockSite on your main work browser
Addictive web browsing has no place at work. There’s a great Chrome Extension that you can configure to block all of your favorite time wasters: download and try BlockSite.
By default, BlockSite will tell you that the site you’re trying to reach has been blocked (by you) and then shame you by telling you how many times you habitually tried to visit the site anyway.
For advanced users, try setting BlockSite’s redirect feature. You can use this to set a healthier, alternative website. Then BlockSite will send you their instead.
I have my BlockSite redirect send me to my Trello todo list as a reminder of what I’m really supposed to be doing.
Here are the sites on my block list:
espn.go.com; news.ycombinator.com; huffingtonpost.com; sfgate.com; boingboing.net; facebook.com; politico.com; fivethirtyeight.com; nytimes.com; twitter.com; washingtonpost.com; realclearpolitics.com; breitbart.com; reddit.com; cnn.com; abcnews.com; nbcnews.com; foxnews.com; news.bbc.co.uk; usatoday.com; wsj.com.
With Blocksite, you’ll end up checking these sites either on your phone or at home in a non-work browser.
For people who carry their laptops everywhere, the alternative trick is to have a work browser that’s configured for productivity and then a personal browser that’s more liberally calibrated for leisure. Chrome lets you do this by setting multiple personas.
#3. Move replacement habits onto the home screen of your phone.
Bad habits are hard to break. The easiest path is to replace them with stronger positive habits. This is a fundamental strategy for behavior augmentation.
For most people, the obvious replacement habits are meditation, books and podcasts.
Surfing the web is like a slot machine: mindless, useless and addictive.
But deep media experiences like reading a book or listening to a podcast produce long term learning and satisfaction. This is what you should be doing instead.
Here’s my home screen with the default Apple podcasts app, Kindle and Calm for guided meditation.
Aside: I’ve been testing behavior design in phone backgrounds. The combination of Red + “Focus” Mantra is intentional design for my subconscious.
#4. Move or delete Facebook, Twitter and your web browser.
I deleted Facebook.
I moved Twitter into a folder on my second screen called Leisure. Not only is Twitter in a Folder, but it’s in the second screen of that folder.
This burying strategy means addictive apps are out of view and at least three taps away. That helps break addictive, mindless habits.
This is my second screen — all addictive apps are deeply hidden.
#5. Remove the web browser from your phone
How badly do you want to be productive? If you do this, please tell me because it’s the most extreme step.
First of all, the default browser on iOS is Safari and you can’t uninstall it. BUT… you can turn on parental control and block access to it. That’s what I did.
Go to Settings > General > Restrictions. Type in your passcode and remove access. There are lots of options to remove from your life in there.
Then when I absolutely need to use a web browser I install the Chrome app. When I’m done, I delete the app.