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How to stop scrolling your life away using one easy trick

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!

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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.

I use an app called StayFocused. It’s perfect for you if you use Chrome to surf the web (but if your a Mac user I’ve heard that SelfControl is a great alternative).

 

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).

stayfocused

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!

4minutes

 

And that’s it, your ready!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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15 thoughts on “How to stop scrolling your life away using one easy trick

  1. Very interesting read about a phenomenon that touches so many people’s daily lives but receives disproportionate attention. I haven’t used any of the control methods mentioned but did deactivate social media for over a month once and felt less of an effect than I thought I would.
    Methods such as controlling the amount of time on browsing posits an interesting question in regards to if the quality or subject matter of websites changes depending on the length of time remaining or restricted by the individual as you have alluded to indeed.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Great post! I love this idea and you explain the why’s and how’s so well! Keep it up and I love you’re writing style, it makes for very easy reading. Thank you!

  3. Great post. Had no idea apps like this existed, and definitely true that the more effort, the less likely I am to indulge my overuse of Facebook, but the question still remains…am I ready to take this big step, or will I waste even more time thinking about what I might be missing out on?!

  4. Think alot of people will relate to this, makes interesting food for thought.

  5. Really good idea, some people spend way to much time online me being one of them. ????

  6. I think your blog is amazing. Thank you for the information it is very helpful.

  7. While I ironically lack the concentration to spend much time browsing the internet, I find your explanations for why these interventions are effective fascinating and easy to understand. Thanks, perhaps I will recommend this technique to some of the procrastinators in my life!

  8. A lot of people scroll mindlessly on facebook, I am definitely privy to this as well. I think using an antecedent is a very good way to limit the amount of time spent on websites such as this. I really love the way your blog breaks down the ‘behaviour babble’ into something that non-psychologists can understand :).

  9. I dread to think how much time I spend just scrolling Facebook or buzzfeed haha. Maybe this is why I didn’t get a first in my degree haha

  10. I certainly have an addiction to the Internet. I’m constantly scrolling through my social media pages and Googling things. I have a lot of hobby and voluntary work which requires internet use but the majority of the time I spend online is mindless scrolling. This becomes an issue when I am working on university assignments and sometimes when I am spending time with my children. I often find myself scrolling through Facebook when I could (should) be spending that time playing giants and chasing the kids around. I will definitely be trying out the recommended app! I don’t want to be a zombie mum!

  11. I spend so much time on websites especially clothing and Facebook! I’d save so much money if I stopped looking !
    I’ll try these tips so useful thanks !

  12. So guilty of spending most of the spare time I get alone on social media… Love this post and love the tips!

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