I stumbled across this non-profit, Time Well Spent, listening to the founder, Tristan Harris, on a podcast the other day.
And it caught me at the right time. This is something I have recently been struggling with in my own life. I have started to become more aware of how tethered and stuck to my phone I always was.
I had become addicted. Responding to every notification and impulse that came my way. Every minute became another minute for me to mindlessly play with my phone whether it be facebook or surfing the news.
Rather than spending face to face time with my twin daughters, I would surf the internet and play with my smartphone. I acted like I was spending time with them, but I was only kidding myself.
And I began to realize – most of what I do on the phone is purely distraction. It’s not rewarding. It was addictive behavior. And it stops from me truly engaging in social interaction.
I would wake up cruising through my email first thing. Start surfing the news on my phone. And the next thing I have lost 15 minutes in the morning. And for what? I wasn’t getting anything of value out of it.
It didn’t make me happier.
Instead, it sent me on a path of anxiety all day. Anxious about what’s happening. Anxious about missing out. And anxious about having 3 seconds to myself without some type of stimuli.
Just a few simple suggestions I read on the Time Well Spent website helped – the main one is to just remove all of the apps on your home screen. Put them on the second page or just leave them in the apps folder.
I never thought of app icons serving as a trigger. And a trigger that can send you down a habitual path you really aren’t even aware of. I would open and start surfing apps purely because the app icons served as a subconscious trigger for my brain.
I wasn’t really getting anything out of it. I was just mindlessly surfing.
And all it took was to remove the apps from my home screen. And suddenly – I feel as if I have more control.
It seems silly and simple. But it’s those simple triggers that can send us down a rabbit hole.
And it makes you realize – how little control you have of the process. It’s something that very quickly becomes subconscious behavior.
Take facebook for instance. Just by deleting the app and forcing yourself to login everytime you want to use can help break the addictive habit loop.
Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself for a few days.
I think there is some real value in social media and facebook – don’t mistake what I am saying. It’s when the use of it becomes a time filler – something that is more of a distraction than something we derive value from.
And over the next few years, I think this will increasingly be a hot button issue for us as consumers. We will start to really discover the true value of technology. And rather than using it as a distraction, we will start to use it as a way to actually enhance our productivity.
There are many valuable ways that technology has helped make us more productive and has created a ton of value.
But for the short term, there are just as many examples of how it has led to a distraction-crazed culture. We seek out instant gratification at the expense of any long term projects or planning. And our attention span has been beat down to a nub.
We can take the control back.
But it requires breaking the cycle.
And being more mindful about how we integrate technology into our everyday lives.