Have you ever suddenly realized that you’ve spent much longer than you intended browsing your Facebook feed, Instagram feed, Twitter feed, or any other such feed you are prone to disappearing into?
Perhaps this happens so often that you are beginning to get annoyed with yourself?
It has definitely happened to me. But not anymore.
Following Alice’s lead
I am definitely the first to praise new technology – and I do thoroughly enjoy the posts, 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, yet, when we finally do 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 it without being distracted by it.
He recently shared seven tricks for distraction-free use of phones 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 we fall into 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 reminds us of an alternative to what we are doing, such as a sign, an icon, or a text.
The simple solution, therefore, is 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 try this:
Have a look at your 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.
Try this for a week or two and ask yourself if it made any difference.
If you want more ideas along these lines, read the rest of Tristan Harris’ article.
Time for the right things
If by performing this simple operation you avoid falling deep into certain apps, you will inevitably 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 this tip is by no means a moralizing on the usage of certain apps. 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.
About the author
David Stiernholm is a trainer who teaches thousands of people every year in companies, government authorities, organizations and universities how to become more structured and attain a higher degree of personal efficiency.
He is also the author of Super Structured.
“Information overload”, “too much going on”, “full email inbox”, “too much on your plate”, “heavy workload”, “ASAP”, “piles that keep growing”, it has to get better soon… Yes, there are many ways to describe the chaotic life many of us lead at work. But, if we create a better structure at work, we will have more time for what matters most to us and to our business. Super Structured is based on a highly successful training program and is for anyone who wants to create a workday that runs smoother and with greater ease. In short chapters with useful advice and tips.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock: Lviv, Ukraine – Dec 04, 2013: Graffiti depicting the White Rabbit