Author Topic: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices  (Read 1920 times)

pdxbator

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Hi Mustachians,

I'm looking for some advice. I'm semi-retired (work just Thursday and Fridays). I'm 45 years old, no children with a husband and a dog. It's a glorious schedule because work can be so stressful. I've been on this schedule about a year.

What I'm finding is that I spend way too much time on the computer/my phone looking at Reddit, 'researching' something that leads to the rabbit hole of Wikipedia, checking email (not work) but I'm honestly not in contact with that many people.

How do I break this cycle? Is there a good book that someone can recommend on how to do away with all these electronic time sucking time? I like to read, I'm trying to learn guitar, do yard work, etc. But I just find that I somehow end up for hours not really doing anything but clicking.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

degrom7

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2018, 07:14:14 PM »
Hi Mustachians,

I'm looking for some advice. I'm semi-retired (work just Thursday and Fridays). I'm 45 years old, no children with a husband and a dog. It's a glorious schedule because work can be so stressful. I've been on this schedule about a year.

What I'm finding is that I spend way too much time on the computer/my phone looking at Reddit, 'researching' something that leads to the rabbit hole of Wikipedia, checking email (not work) but I'm honestly not in contact with that many people.

How do I break this cycle? Is there a good book that someone can recommend on how to do away with all these electronic time sucking time? I like to read, I'm trying to learn guitar, do yard work, etc. But I just find that I somehow end up for hours not really doing anything but clicking.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I hear you. I'm the same way. My wife gets annoyed at me for that. What helps is giving yourself a time limit for phonw/computer each day and when it's over, spend the time with your husband watching TV, talking, playing with the dog, etc. Plan date nights so you'll be busy away from the internet. It's very hard to do but it should be baby steps, less and less time each week for the internet and more awY from it. Hope it helps.


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yourusernamehere

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2018, 07:37:45 PM »
I remember reading one of the Mrs. Money Mustache guest posts where she said just making the computer NOT the first thing she interacted with to start the day seemed to help a lot. Like when you get up in the morning maybe try a paper to-do list and work on getting outside first thing. You might not kick the habits completely but at least you won't look up at noon and wonder where half your day has gone

Duke03

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2018, 07:38:58 PM »
LOL add me to the list.  I love to read so will do a lot of online reading and learning...  My wife will complain and claim I'm always on the computer, but normally while I'm on the computer she will be watching some dumb show on tv. So I think we are even.  Most of my reading is investment based or MMM or learning new personal finance tricks so it really pays off.....  Not to mention it's my way to relax and unwind at the end of the day.

jmwagner5

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2018, 07:46:13 PM »
I use the "freedom" app to help with this.  It blocks all of the internet for a set period of time and can't be undone unless the whole computer is restarted.  Or an "anti-social" app to block specific websites using the same principle.  Minimal cost with impressive upside. 

Radagast

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2018, 07:52:35 PM »
I use the "freedom" app to help with this.  It blocks all of the internet for a set period of time and can't be undone unless the whole computer is restarted.  Or an "anti-social" app to block specific websites using the same principle.  Minimal cost with impressive upside.
Those are good ideas. I also use the "Leech block" extension for firefox to shut myself out of my favorite websites when I need to use the internet. Then I hide other browsers. I have a strong and unstoppable habit of typing "news" into a search engine including a very noticeable dopamine rush when the search goes through. Leechblock prevents me from getting that fulfilled feeling. It seems like Apple's most recent software update allows some control over this, but I just recall seeing a notification never played around.

Fresh Bread

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2018, 10:20:08 PM »
I use Leech Block on my laptop so that I can't access certain sites like social media when I supposed to be working, and outside that I'm limited to 30 mins on FB for example. For my phone I use an app called Stay Focused which gives me a limit on the number of times I can open an app and time limits. They have both been helpful in training me to stay off.

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2018, 10:47:36 PM »
I have uninstalled apps and notifications and *still* find myself just circling through clicking on icons on my phone. I think Stay Focused sounds super useful because argh! it's so easy to just pick up the thing instead of any of the other things I would actually get more benefit from.

Fresh Bread

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2018, 12:18:18 AM »
I have uninstalled apps and notifications and *still* find myself just circling through clicking on icons on my phone. I think Stay Focused sounds super useful because argh! it's so easy to just pick up the thing instead of any of the other things I would actually get more benefit from.

Here's all the options you get on Stay Focused - can apply them to any app. The limitation is that you can't select individual websites, unlike Leech Block. So I can still open the news and scroll when I should be working. I can't block Chrome altogether on my phone because sometimes I genuinely need to look something up when I'm out but working.

Daley

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2018, 07:55:46 AM »
First, it's great to recognize the problem, and you want to do something about it @pdxbator. Your next step is to actually understand how it's actively harming you and develop the heart change that will give you the strength to actually break the cycle, as without the will and desire to change in recognizing how it hurts you, your loved ones, and society - you're unlikely to take the necessary steps to actually change long term, and any solution that only addresses the symptoms without touching on the root problem are only bandages. There are some books that can help with that.

There's one recent and very relevant book directly related to what you might be after called Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter, but it's only at the entrance of the rabbit hole, so to speak.

The thing is, it didn't start with smartphones and computers. If you want to keep diving down the hole on this subject, the next couple books you'll want to lay your hands on will be Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander and The Plug-In Drug: Television, Children, And The Family by Marie Winn.

If you're still not convinced to strip down screen time of any sort to just practical matters of communication as a tool and are yet unconvinced of the damage this stuff inflicts on society, there's two more books worth reading from that point that'll likely make you deeply uncomfortable, especially given what's unfolding in society right now. Start with Ghostly Apparitions: German Idealism, the Gothic Novel, and Optical Media by Stefan Andriopoulos and finish off the entire reading list with The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing by Joost A.M. Meerloo.

I can guarantee you will never look at another computer, phone, movie or television screen the same way again once you're finished reading. It will change your outlook, and redefine your time spent with these technologies like nothing else will. It is a tool, respect its power and strive to use it sparingly as such unless it becomes a liability in your life.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2018, 08:19:02 AM by Daley »

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2018, 08:04:20 AM »
Great suggestions @Daley !

One very simple thing is to use an old-school alarm clock (if you use one at all), keeping your phone away from your bed or in another room entirely. This keeps you from seeing it along with all the notifications when you wake up.

Another is to turn off as many notifications as possible. Every little red number, pop-up, sound, vibration, etc.

Then there's just working on developing habits. I feel as though there are useful things you can do with tech. For a while, I substituted - For each time I wanted to open Facebook, I would open Kindle instead and read, even if only a few pages.

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2018, 08:06:17 AM »
Like several above, I use an app (in my case, ColdTurkey -free). Love it.

The power bar for the modem is also within arm’s reach of my most active spot, and when I need me or my kid to stop internetting I just flick the switch. Easy.

We also take electronics-free vacations and that helps reboot us.

Finally, no data, only a simple phone each so no internetting while we’re out and about.

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2018, 08:57:55 AM »
I have the same problem, yet I'm still working full time.

Zola.

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2018, 09:06:47 AM »
I would recommend downloading an app called "Quality Time".

It tracks your screen usage, how many times you unlock your phone etc.  The morning I installed it I discovered that I unlocked my phone 85 times in about 4 hours. Crazy.

1 hour of time looking at the screen. it all adds up and robs you of time.

Scary actually.

buggystd

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2018, 09:30:39 PM »
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Delete apps and install something like Zero Willpower to control websites on your iPhone and WasteNoTime on your computer.

Turn off ALL notifications on your phone (especially the red badge on the app icon).

It is not foolproof, but it's a start.

Apple has a new Screentime management thing in the latest version of iOS, but I'm not that familiar with it.

calimom

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2018, 11:14:39 PM »
Like several above, I use an app (in my case, ColdTurkey -free). Love it.

The power bar for the modem is also within arm’s reach of my most active spot, and when I need me or my kid to stop internetting I just flick the switch. Easy.

We also take electronics-free vacations and that helps reboot us.

Finally, no data, only a simple phone each so no internetting while we’re out and about.

Does it work?

Radagast

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2018, 12:57:43 AM »
Right, I guess I do a lot more than my first post.
-Turn everything on your phone off. Disable notifications, popups, location, bluetooth, data, type assist, everything you can get away with whenever you can get away with it. Deny all permissions. Set your phone to low power mode. Together these will also triple your battery life. I do have red bubbles for company email, missed calls, and texts though (that is because I hate answering work email, so I never look at it unless I expect something important).
-Limit your phone to a single "page" of useful apps plus another single "folder" of necessary apps. For me this is 24 total, but I only have about 20 occupied right now. Ditch any that don't fit.
-Set your phone screen to black and white. That will make it substantially less addictive and further use less power. I am not doing this right now, but I have been progressively setting all my screens to warmer colors, and then warmer again after I adapt to the new warmness level. Other people must think they look just peachy by now.
-Never, ever let any website or app remember your username or password or automatically log you in. Ever.
-Firefox focus is another pretty useful browser. Make it your default on phones, with the OEM browser there hidden away as a back up.
-Get the smallest screens you can.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2018, 12:59:33 AM by Radagast »

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2018, 02:59:45 AM »
Like several above, I use an app (in my case, ColdTurkey -free). Love it.

The power bar for the modem is also within arm’s reach of my most active spot, and when I need me or my kid to stop internetting I just flick the switch. Easy.

We also take electronics-free vacations and that helps reboot us.

Finally, no data, only a simple phone each so no internetting while we’re out and about.

Does it work?

Does what work? These four things allowing us to drop internet/electronics as desired? Yes, definitely! And my child completely accepts that I end internet whenever (multiple times per day, for blocks of 1, 5, and 12 hours at a time). I love blocks of 1 and 5 hours at a time off, multiple times per day, and 23-72 hours at a time off. (I do often work in the night after a shorter period of sleep than him.)

We both really enjoy the internet/electronics, I also place a very high value on many hours off each day, and we both feel and function better with regular breaks from them.

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2018, 07:43:06 AM »
If you have an iphone:

There's a screentime app in the latest iOS that allows you to set limits for yourself.  My phone, with the exception of the phone part, texting, and some utilities, like the alarm clock, are set to turn off from 9:30 pm to 8 am.  Everything else is "greyed" out.  You can still pretty much use anything if needed, but there are extra steps- request more time, enter passcode, select additional time...  But between the visual reminder to not do it and the extra steps, it's enough to keep me off of my device most of the time.  I wake up around 7 and leave the house around 7:45, so the habit of using my phone first thing in the morning has been completely squashed with the screentime block until 8 am.

It also lets you set maximum use times on apps.  So I only get 15 minutes of FB a day, 15 minutes of safari, etc.

Rosy

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2018, 08:46:35 AM »
It wasn't hard at all to do while I was on vacation. Didn't really miss any of it either, except I couldn't even download a book because I had issues with my tablet.
At home - I seem to go in cycles and binge read and binge live on the web for like three months at a time. If I notice it completely gets out of hand I don't allow myself any computer time before 2 pm so at least my stuff gets done before I disappear into the net.
It's easy to become addicted and hang out with your coffee and computer first thing in the morning - but when the weather turns as fine as it just did, I hear my garden calling me:)

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2018, 10:43:28 AM »
First, it's great to recognize the problem, and you want to do something about it @pdxbator. Your next step is to actually understand how it's actively harming you and develop the heart change that will give you the strength to actually break the cycle, as without the will and desire to change in recognizing how it hurts you, your loved ones, and society - you're unlikely to take the necessary steps to actually change long term, and any solution that only addresses the symptoms without touching on the root problem are only bandages. There are some books that can help with that.

There's one recent and very relevant book directly related to what you might be after called Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter, but it's only at the entrance of the rabbit hole, so to speak.

The thing is, it didn't start with smartphones and computers. If you want to keep diving down the hole on this subject, the next couple books you'll want to lay your hands on will be Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander and The Plug-In Drug: Television, Children, And The Family by Marie Winn.

If you're still not convinced to strip down screen time of any sort to just practical matters of communication as a tool and are yet unconvinced of the damage this stuff inflicts on society, there's two more books worth reading from that point that'll likely make you deeply uncomfortable, especially given what's unfolding in society right now. Start with Ghostly Apparitions: German Idealism, the Gothic Novel, and Optical Media by Stefan Andriopoulos and finish off the entire reading list with The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing by Joost A.M. Meerloo.

I can guarantee you will never look at another computer, phone, movie or television screen the same way again once you're finished reading. It will change your outlook, and redefine your time spent with these technologies like nothing else will. It is a tool, respect its power and strive to use it sparingly as such unless it becomes a liability in your life.

@Daley I read the Irresistable book you recommended.  It was exceptional at describing the problem -- designers and developers are designing games/apps/websites/etc. that play our on psychology and make addicts out of all of us.

What I thought was lacking, though, was what to do about it? What behavioral changes can I make to correct this behavior?  Do you have any books on this aspect?

Goldielocks

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2018, 01:06:08 PM »
I find that if I start on the laptop early in the day, I don't get off of it, especially if researching something...

My "method"?   
1) Don't start the laptop early in the day. 
Instead, start my day with the household chores, then look at a handwritten "to do" list of errands / chores (brownie points if I had checked out the grocery flyers previously to avoid online checking in the morning).   I book a walk with a friend, or go outside to do yard care.

Then, when I need a break, I will go onto the computer later in the day.   Typically it is after I have started dinner or we have eaten.. once the kids arrive at home there are lot of distractions.   If DH wants to watch some TV together, I tend to do that instead of the computer... and then the computer time is much, much shorter per day by default.

2)  Let my cell phone die (power)
I only charge my phone when it is low, now, no plugging it in every day.   This means that it dies a lot, and I can go for a day without noticing and without any messages / notifications, which is golden for not "hooking" me into checking it.   
Messages that are "stale" (or facebook posts or whatever) have a lot less interest when I do see them, and I filter through them quickly.
I did have to buy a portable charger as I usually find a dead phone when I am about to go out and need to be in contact with people, so I just take the charger with me,  and plug in my phone in my purse.   I do have a VOIP line for home use, that people can reach me on instead of the cell phone.

Daley

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2018, 01:08:57 PM »
@Daley I read the Irresistable book you recommended.  It was exceptional at describing the problem -- designers and developers are designing games/apps/websites/etc. that play our on psychology and make addicts out of all of us.

What I thought was lacking, though, was what to do about it? What behavioral changes can I make to correct this behavior?  Do you have any books on this aspect?

The only effective way to break an addiction is to get the person addicted to become fully aware of the damage the poison inflicts and choose life over the poison itself.

Honest question, @ReadySetMillionaire - Are you someone who subscribes to a faith and credo? If so, can it be described as Abrahamic in origin? Perhaps inclusive of a certain tradesman from Galilee who got nailed to a post?

If so, and even if you aren't, you could always jump to the end of that reading list, give a quick dig into what Stefan Andriopoulos has to say about the origins of all this technology and historical roots of the media, then give old Joost Meerloo's book a read for as long as you can stomach it. Once you realize what's been done to us, maybe give Deuteronomy 18:9-14 a read as a bit of soothing balm. Good or bad in one's intent, this stuff and the science behind it when used is clearly dangerous.

Though, I will be honest, temptation is hard to fight because the programming runs deep… but until you genuinely hate the damage more than the benefit, any efforts at moderation and control aren't going to do much short of a full removal cold turkey detox and or heavy dialing-back of the amount of technology made available in your life. Take it from an addict.

Boofinator

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2018, 01:22:38 PM »
Tough question. My advice is to figure out things you like to do more than the undesired activities, then focus your free time on these. If you truly like playing the guitar, or like the thought of your future experienced self playing the guitar, then focus on that joy or the joy of future achievement any time your brain is triggered to start scrolling.

In my opinion, if you don't have an alternative that brings you more happiness, then it is very difficult to break an addiction.

Also, if not already part of your life, physical activity (exercise) helps calm my wandering mind.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: How to Get off the Computer/Reddit/Email Checking/Time Sucking Devices
« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2018, 03:41:34 PM »
@Daley I read the Irresistable book you recommended.  It was exceptional at describing the problem -- designers and developers are designing games/apps/websites/etc. that play our on psychology and make addicts out of all of us.

What I thought was lacking, though, was what to do about it? What behavioral changes can I make to correct this behavior?  Do you have any books on this aspect?

The only effective way to break an addiction is to get the person addicted to become fully aware of the damage the poison inflicts and choose life over the poison itself.

Honest question, @ReadySetMillionaire - Are you someone who subscribes to a faith and credo? If so, can it be described as Abrahamic in origin? Perhaps inclusive of a certain tradesman from Galilee who got nailed to a post?

If so, and even if you aren't, you could always jump to the end of that reading list, give a quick dig into what Stefan Andriopoulos has to say about the origins of all this technology and historical roots of the media, then give old Joost Meerloo's book a read for as long as you can stomach it. Once you realize what's been done to us, maybe give Deuteronomy 18:9-14 a read as a bit of soothing balm. Good or bad in one's intent, this stuff and the science behind it when used is clearly dangerous.

Though, I will be honest, temptation is hard to fight because the programming runs deep… but until you genuinely hate the damage more than the benefit, any efforts at moderation and control aren't going to do much short of a full removal cold turkey detox and or heavy dialing-back of the amount of technology made available in your life. Take it from an addict.

Thanks for the reference.

Here's the thing, and what usually gets me stuck -- my cell phone (and computer) are what make me money.  I'm a solo practicing lawyer.  My phone and email are the actual pipeline of my professional revenue, and that's not optional. 

Just for an example, email.  Gmail (and any work email) fulfills obvious needs, but for my specific situation, I get emails regarding covering hearings for $100 each.  I average $1,400 in income from these, but these hearings are gone if I do not respond quickly.  For now, in the infancy of my practice, I need these notifications on so I can respond and make money.

My home screen has the following apps:

Phone
Weather
Clock
Messaging
Gmail (necessary for work)
Google Calendar (necessary for work)
Google Maps (necessary for driving to hearings)
Google Play (listen to music while reading)
ESPN
Podcasts (listen while exercising)
Apple News (curated to summarize all my sports news...takes up way, way, way less of my time than Twitter)
Fitbit (health and fitness)
Quickbooks Self-Employed (allows me to track mileage and transactions)

I also have things tucked away in a folder -- Chrome, Instagram, Netflix, YouTube, banking apps, Snapchat, mobile TV apps, etc.

So, as you'll see, almost all of the icons on the home screen are production-related. And I'm a big sports fan.

The new Apple Screen Time app shows I'm using my apps as follows:

Productivity Apps -- 4 minutes per day (work)
Internet Browsing (Chrome) -- 34 minutes per day (mindless bullshit, usually reading about politics/news)
Social Networking (includes texting) -- 26 minutes per day (22 minutes of this is texting, the rest is Instagram...no Twitter or FB)
Reading and Reference (Apple News) -- 10 minutes per day (reading sports news)
Health -- 3 minutes per day (tracking calories and steps via Fitbit)
Entertainment -- 5 minutes per day (ESPN app)
Other (podcasts, music, etc.) -- 8 minutes

I feel like I'm doing way, way better than I used to.  But I still pick up the phone and, look, I only use the productivity apps 4 minutes per day.  Then it's a lot of browsing, texting, and it all somehow adds up to NINETY MINUTES a day.

But then I go and look...the average person uses their cell phone for FOUR HOURS per day!  So I'm doing okay, but am I doing okay enough? I especially worry about this because my entire job is word processing, answering phones, responding to emails, etc., so I'm also in front of a computer a lot.

I guess I'm just torn. Am I using this enough as a tool for good that it's worth the detriments, or am I addicted to this damn thing?

Just looking at this, I'm going to try and cut down to 45 minutes per day.  I'll maybe keep everyone posted.

« Last Edit: November 05, 2018, 03:46:51 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »