I don´t know about you but I am often so tempted to spend way too much time on my phone or my computer scrolling through Instagram or bingeing on Netflix way past my bedtime. Since I´m not naturally the most disciplined person this really took away my time I could´ve spent being more productive or on active relaxation. Cause scrolling through Instagram often doesn´t really make me feel relaxed or satisfied. By now it’s become quite a habit to sometimes mindlessly open an app and then lose way too much time there.
One option I´ve used for a few years especially during class but also when studying in the library is simply putting away my phone. It seems simple but part of the problem is always having it in my sight and being aware its there that makes it tempting to use it. Therefore. I started putting my phone at the bottom of my backpack back when there were normal lectures pre-2020. If I wanted to use my phone, I had to dig into my backpack to find it. Also, I would have to actively remember that my phone is there when I am focused on the lecture.
Additionally, I found in lectures if I sat in front so there were fewer people in front of me procrastinating on their phones, it would help me focus more. For studying I would place my phone out of my side either behind my laptop or somewhere in the room. If I am studying at the library, I started putting my phone in the locker so I could only use it outside and not at my study spot to keep the two separated.
Furthermore, I found that quite a few times I am using my phone to scroll started with me checking the time. Maybe the lecture wasn´t quite as interesting at that moment or I wanted to see how much more time I had to finish one task before moving to another. Since it seemed a little crazy to me that I spent time losing time because I wanted to check the time, I decided to get an old-fashioned analog watch. While watches from certain brands have been hyped on Instagram as a fashion statement in recent years, it was never important enough for me to spend the money. But I can honestly say now that having a watch (no matter what brand) is such a game-changer. Not because it makes you look cool (even though it does) but it helps you replacing your phone for a task that you really don’t need it too.
While all those tips really helped me improve how to spend less time on my phone when studying I would still regularly screw myself over by staying up way too late to start bright and early the next day. Therefore, I decided about a year ago that I need better solutions for stopping myself besides thinking “I will do better”.
After some research, I got an App called AppBlock. It has different options what to block and you have to pay for it. For example, you can block notifications or the use of an app (or both) in certain time periods. Or you can block using a certain wifi or limit how often you can open an app per day. It also has a locked mode where you can lock altering a blocking profile and strict mode that doesn´t let you uninstall the app for a certain time. Personally, I´ve never used the strict mode but I have a friend that really struggled with not using his phone to study and this feature was quite helpful for him. I do like to lock my sleep profile though for extended periods so I can´t use Instagram at night for like 30 days so I can develop better sleeping habits again after uni breaks.
While some phones have features like AppBlock as part of their regular setup now, I really struggled to find something for my computer. And last year after testing some freeware I finally caved and got the Freedom Premium version. It´s a little pricy but it has been the best option to limit spending too much time browsing the internet on my computer I´ve found so far. It lets you make lists of websites to block and then allocate time frames during what time those websites are to be blocked. If a website is blocked the screen turns to a calming green. Additionally, you can block your whole browser in certain time slots, so it closes the window altogether. This is a little radical, but I found it helpful for sticking to a bedtime. There is also an option to use it on your phone or your tablet for the same price. And there is a browser extension for Mozilla that lets you take a short pause (up to 5 minutes if you wish) before opening a certain website asking you if you really want to open it. What I like about freedom besides the obvious features is also the clean and calming green design. Just like the app also the design oozes “no distractions” which I find quite nice. I had problems with the program stopping its auto-run function a few times, which resulted in it not working. But after uninstalling and installing it again and activating all my schedules for my device again I had no problems in recent time.