Today, internet use is ingrained in contemporary society and has changed the way we live our lives more than any other technological medium yet. Despite this, we still know relatively little about the effects of internet addiction on our psychological functioning, mental health, and general well-being.
1. Keep yourself on a Schedule
The most basic step that Rosen suggests for weaning yourself off your phone is literally setting alarms specifying how often you can check it. Start with every 15 minutes, and then move to every half hour, every 45 minutes, or every hour. When your alarm sounds, spend one minute going through any and all notifications and then reset the timer.
To reduce response-anxiety and hold you accountable, Rosen suggests telling close friends or family that you may not be responding to their messages as quickly as you used to.
2. Take distracting apps off your Home Screen
A lot of [phone usage] is unconscious behavior according to Rosen. You shift from Facebook to Instagram, to checking the weather, to texts. But if you have to specifically seek out an app to use it, you’ll cut down on the “accidental” time-sucks that happen when you just start tapping around on your phone.
Keep the apps that you want to encourage yourself to use like those for reading or learning a new language front and center, but banish anything that you want to limit your time with to folders on your second page of apps (or if you have an Android phone, off the screen entirely). To go a step further, you could even delete certain apps such as Facebook or Twitter entirely and relegate your usage to your smart phone’s web browser.
3. Limit your attention to a single application at a time
This is an extremely simple app that’s akin to “Spaces” on a Mac. When activated, Think allows you to bring just one application into the foreground on your computer, while everything else is hidden underneath a nearly opaque backdrop. While you can easily shift between other applications when you need to, it creates a clean space for focusing on the task at hand. (It also works well in tandem with FocusBooster.)
4. Use a Smart Speaker
One of the most valuable things about smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo or Google’s Home products is that they help you live a more screen-free life.
Since I got one, I’ve stopped turning on music or podcasts on my phone and will try to answer all basic questions via voice. Generally, using my smart speaker for as many things as possible has kept my smartphone out of my hands for longer periods.
5. Maximize focus while shifting between different tasks
Concentrate is great for shifting between tasks that require different mindsets. I have a variety of recurring tasks that require different tools: 1) Writing, 2) Social Media Management, 3) Event Planning. Concentrate lets me configure a different set of tools for each task. When I activate “Writing,” the app automatically closes my email client and Internet Browser; blocks me from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube; launches Microsoft Word; and sets my instant messaging status to “away”. Then, when I want to concentrate on “Social Media Management,” I can customize a completely different set of actions to happen relevant to that activity. There’s also a handy “concentration” timer.
6. Decrease how often you check the internet in 15 minute increments
If you check the internet many times throughout the day, then cutting back to checking it only once or twice per day may be too drastic. Instead, you could start by gradually weaning yourself and extending the time you wait to check the internet by 15 minutes each time. This may help you to reduce your overall internet use in a less jarring way.
7. Stay Accountable
Consider installing an app that tracks your smartphone habits. So that you can set a specific usage goal and see how well you stick to it.
Getting enough exercise is has many benefits. Regular exercise can help keep you healthy, boost your mood, make you more self-confident, sleep better, and much more. If you are struggling with Internet addiction, exercise will also serve as a good alternative use of your time.
9. Take regular breaks to keep your focus sharp
For optimal focus, we need to take regular time-outs to relax and rebuild our energy. Time Out is a super-simple application that runs in the background while you work. At set intervals (say, every 90 minutes), it fades in and gently reminds you to take a 5-10 minute break. You can also use it to remind you to take 1-minute “micro-breaks” to avoid eye strain from staring at your computer like a zombie for hours on end.
10. Use reminder cards
Creating visual reminders can help with your Internet addiction. In addition to that, your determination to stop it can be a powerful way of cutting back time spent online as well. Using an index card or sticky note, write down messages for yourself and leave them in obvious places (like on or near your computer, on your refrigerator, on your desk, etc.) or carry them around.