How to reduce mindless scrolling without extra software
October 12, 2022
Every week I lose multiple hours on scrolling memes, news and comment sections. It distracts me from the important stuff, makes my eyes sore and destroys my ability to focus.
What is more: the dopamine reward loop mechanism also affects my mood. Without these small excitement doses, I feel depressed.
This affects many developers as we tend to seek a break in our natural habitat – in front of a screen. As a software developer, I spend too much time in front of a screen anyway because of my work.
how to measure time lost on scrolling?
Do you think you lose less time on that? Check that on your phone right now.
On iOS find Screen Time in settings and see stats from last week. On Android find Digital Wellbeing inside settings (name can vary depending on the phone manufacturer).
That is why I decided to fight that behaviour and reduce this unnecessary screen time. Digital procrastination topics will appear in this newsletter from time to time. This is my long-time struggle.
Below I present two techniques to reduce scrolling that can be applied right away. Without installing any external software.
main devices where I scroll
I managed to almost eliminate lurking on a computer. Using browser extensions that block specific pages + logging out of services helped.
Eliminating smartphones is way harder.
It’s always there, it’s easy to unlock and tends to notify me about non-essential stuff.
avoid installing apps
Here is some radical step. Don’t freak out - later on, I will send workarounds.
uninstall some apps
Apps are well-designed and comfortable. They tend to send tons of notifications. Hence taping on some juicy, colourful icon on the home screen is very tempting.
When an app is uninstalled it is no longer there – I don’t see its vivid icon on every unlock. It doesn’t bother me for notification permissions.
But I want to see content from this app… I cannot uninstall it!
That is a fair point. Most “apps” are just online services with websites. If I really need to see what is happening on Facebook, 9gag or anything else I just enter its address into my mobile browser.
It requires an extra step. It requires effort. Mobile websites are usually designed worse than apps. GOOD – those drawbacks are beneficial for me. The brain is a lazy being. Thanks to that I have fewer opportunities to enter endless content.
what about apps that I cannot just uninstall?
There are apps without websites or apps that I really need because of some other features.
In such scenarios, I just disable notifications. On iOS it is even easier because notifications are disabled by default. If I want them I have to agree during the first app usage.
Unfortunately, on Android notifications are enabled by default. I have to remember to disable it in the options.
This helps a lot and it seems like all those URGENT things are not so urgent after all. Without a smartphone constantly screaming about some new post that was added here and there I have much fewer distractors.
These are simple suggestions that everyone can apply without installing additional software. The only thing that is needed is mental strength and a will to change habits.
If you are interested in that topic let me know – I can share more tips on that e.g. how to block content on mobile devices.