Have you ever suddenly realized that you just spent much longer than you intended browsing the Facebook feed, the Instagram feed, the Twitter feed, or any other feed or flows you are prone to disappearing into at the moment? Perhaps this happens so often that you are beginning to get annoyed with yourself? It has definitely happened to me. But not anymore.
Let’s follow Alice’s lead
I am definitely the first to praise new technology, and I do thoroughly enjoy the texts, pictures and reflections that others share. But, I have definitely found myself spending too much time on these ”rabbit-hole-apps”. We happen to catch a glimpse of them and before we know it we have ended up in a place where time seems to stand still, and when we finally return to reality, the minutes have in some strange way gone by quite quickly.
Technology on our own terms
Tristan Harris was, until recently, the ”product philosopher” at Google, where he initiated the movement he referred to as ”Time Well Spent” - an attempt to align technology with humanity, and enjoy the new technology without being distracted by it. He recently shared seven tricks for a distraction-free use of phones on his blog that narrows down what the initiative is all about. His first trick made a difference to how I use my devices, so I want to share it with you as well.
We see it, we do it
One crucial reason for why we fall into the rabbit-hole-apps is simply that we see them on our phone’s home screen. This simple conclusion is in line with the results Suri and Gross found after a study presented in the article “The Role of Attention in Motivated Behavior” in 2015, namely that what we choose to do is heavily influenced by what we happen to lay our eyes on - something that reminds us of an alternative to what we are doing, such as a sign, an icon, or a text.
The simple solution is therefore to move the apps we want to stay clear of out of sight, so that we only see them when we really, consciously want to.
If you want to do something about this particular phenomenon, then do this:
- Have a look at you phone’s home screen, meaning the screen you usually see when unlocking the telephone. What apps do you then see that you wish you spent less time leisurely browsing?
- Move these apps onto the next screen, so that they are no longer visible on the ”main home screen”.
- Instead you should move the apps to the main home screen which you:
- use often, since they constitute actual ”tools”
- would want to use more often, but just haven’t started using
- Try this for a week or two, and ask yourself if it made any difference to you.
- If you want more ideas along these lines, read the rest of Tristan Harris’ article.
Time for the right things
If you by performing this simple operation avoid falling deep into certain apps, you will instead spend more time doing what you actually wish to invest your time in. Rather than wasting your time on quite pointless things, you will have more focus for the tasks that you will later thank yourself for having done. Time well spent, to quote a modern philosopher.
Allow me to emphasize that that this tip is by no means a moralizing on each and every one’s usage of apps or their phones. We are all free to do whatever we choose, even things that are supposedly ”useless”, but I would rather consciously decide when I delve into the more unproductive apps and programs, instead of accidentally opening and being devoured by them when the timing isn’t perfect.
What’s your trick?
How have you consciously rearranged your home screen? Do you abide to other principles than those presented by Tristan Harris? Write a comment and share your tip.