Last updated on April 16th, 2020 at 11:36 am
We spend a lot of time on the internet. Fact. And as I mentioned in this post, social media sites such as Facebook have some pretty addictive qualities.
There was a time back at university when I was incredibly frustrated with the amount of time that I was wasting. I could have been productive but instead I was watching music videos and reading whimsical fashion blogs.
But what can you do when the internet changes from a harmless way to pass the time into a serious habit that is inhibiting your life?
You can’t just delete Facebook, right? I mean you could, but it’s become such a social norm to be signed up to the site that people can look at you as being a bit weird if you proclaim that you’ve deleted your account. I do know some people who have done it and it certainly can be done. But be prepared to have a lot of explaining to do. That isn’t an option for the faint of heart!
So what is the happy medium between spending every spare moment on Facebook and committing social suicide by deleting your account?
How do you stop yourself from browsing the web and watching funny YouTube videos when you should be doing work?
The answer = download an app which limits the amount of time that you spend on any website that distracts you. For me this was the only way to curb my habit.
Is it complicated to set up?
No not at all! Follow my three step guide below.
1) Download this hero onto your browser
2) Create a list of websites that you want to block yourself from using.
Click the new StayFocused icon in the top right corner of your screen and then > settings.
My list included Facebook and various clothes websites (which I spend way to much time drooling over).
3)Choose how long per day you want to allow yourself to browse all of these sites.
When this is set and you reach your time limit, your custom list of websites will be blocked!
My own personal time limit is 20 minutes. It sounds like a decent amount of time but I was really surprised at how quickly the time went. I was soon scrambling to shamelessly use up my last few minutes wisely!
And that’s it, your ready!
So why does it work?
In behaviour babble terms this is an antecedent intervention: The word antecedent comes from the Latin word antecedent, which means ‘going before’.
So this is an antecedent procedure because you are trying to limit the behaviour that you don’t like (in this case, surfing the web too much) before it occurs, by setting up a website blocker. In other words, setting up StayFocused is a preventative strategy.
Just as someone who is trying to lose weight will throw away all of the junk food from their house, website blockers remove the cue (i.e. the Facebook login or homepage) which says it’s okay to browse the web. Instead all you get a message saying that your time’s up for the day!
Tip: Make it difficult for yourself to cheat!
1) Add “chrome://extensions/” to your list of blocked sites.
This will prevent you from disabling the extension once your time is up!
2)Set up the “Require challenge”
Enabling this setting means that you have to do a difficult challenge before you can change settings, i.e. sneak an extra 30 minutes of time on your blocked sites.
The challenge is to re-type a paragraph of text with absolutely no typo’s! You can choose your own paragraph, so you can make the challenge as annoyingly tricky or as darn near impossible as you like! I tried out the lyrics from Mary Poppins “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” just for fun and failed miserably!
Why does this work? From a behavioural psychology perspective this works because we prefer things we like when they are easy to access. So even if you find it really rewarding to browse on YouTube, if you increase the effort that it takes to get there (from a mouse click to doing a ridiculous typing challenge) then you are more likely to give it up and do something else instead.
That’s all folks!
I hope you found this info useful! And I’d like to know what your strategies are for limiting your time online?
Thank you to Dr. Jon Bailey who helped me to get some of my ideas together for this post.
Beth is forever curious about what makes people tick. She is a master’s degree graduate and former psychology teacher (AKA a proud behaviour nerd!). Autism awareness is a cause close to her heart – check out her fundraiser. Beth becomes her happiest self when she’s helping people like you to enhance your life.