Those of us with executive dysfunction and smartphones know all to well how easy it can be to lose hours a day to scrolling through social media without meaning to, or even realizing when it’s happening.
The act of switching away from one task (e.g., scrolling through social media) and to another (e.g., things you’re actually supposed to be doing) is part of the executive function of cognitive flexibility (CF), and getting stuck in the infinite scroll is just one way CF dysfunction can manifest.
If the infinite scroll is stealing time away from things you’d rather be doing, you might want to try setting usage alerts (helpful when so many of us also deal with time numbness) and/or limiting the time your phone or browser allows you to be on certain apps.
Here is how to do that across devices:
If you have a Google Pixel, Android One (running Android 9 Pie or higher), or a limited number of other phones, you can download Google’s Digital Wellbeing app, which will then become part of your phone settings, and allow you track your app usage without a third party app. Learn how to set it up here: How to Set App Time Limits and Block Apps on Android (How-To Geek, 2019)
Third Party Apps:
- StayFree – Phone Usage Tracker & Overuse Reminder (Free, Contains Ads)
StayFree is a visual and user-friendly Android application that allow you to show how much time you spend on your smartphone and your favorite apps. You can set usage limits for your apps and receive alerts when exceeding the usage limit. You can also view the details of your usage and statistics of your history.
- QualityTime – My Digital Diet (Free, Contains Ads)
QualityTime offers a unique and in-depth analysis of your smartphone activities by tracking total usage, screen unlocks and individual apps with hourly, daily and weekly summary reporting options.
The app provides the ability to curb your habits by using actionable features allowing you to set your own time restrictions like ‘alerts’, ‘take a break’ and ‘scheduled breaks’.These features can help you manage and control your usage when needed.
My Phone Time: limit your phone time, take control of your life! Boost your focus and your productivity, get your personal relationships back on track.
My Phone Time helps you measure and control how long you spend on your phone. It tells you which apps you’re using, and allows you to block some of them so you can make sure you focus on the task at hand!
iPhone users don’t need to download any third party apps to do this, as Apple has built the same features right into the OS. You can set it to give you alerts for, say every 15 minutes you’ve been on a certain app, or to set limits on how much time you can spend on any given site each day.
More at What is Apple Screen Time and how does it work? (Pocket-lint, 2019).
Forest provides an interesting solution to save you from Internet addiction. You can plant a seed in Forest. In the next 30 minutes, this seed will gradually grow into a tree. However, if you cannot resist the temptation and start to browse the websites on your Blacklist, your tree will wither away. With this interesting mechanism, the sense of achievement and responsibility will drive our users to stay away from the distractions with no pain.
LeechBlock NG (Next Generation) is a simple free productivity tool designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day. (You know: the ones that rhyme with ‘Blue Cube’, ‘Space Hook’, ‘Sticky Media’, ‘Quitter’, and the like.) All you need to do is specify which sites to block and when to block them.
You can specify up to 30 sets of sites to block, with different times and days for each set. You can block sites within fixed time periods (e.g., between 9am and 5pm), after a time limit (e.g., allow up to 10 minutes in every hour), or with a combination of time periods and time limit (e.g., allow up to 10 minutes in every hour between 9am and 5pm).With the lockdown feature, you can block sites immediately for a specified duration.
RescueTime tracks the time you spend in the active tab or window of Chrome, or your ChromeOS device. This gives you a clear picture of what you were actually doing all day, to better manage your digital life.
RescueTime does it’s best to auto-categorize the sites you visit. It also scores them on a scale from Very Productive to Very Distracting. You can easily fine-tune the defaults to suit your needs. It’s also simple to pause RescueTime, or delete any time you’d rather not have tracked.
- StayFocusd (Chrome)
StayFocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.