Has this ever happened to you:
Twitter notifications! Email! Facebook event invites! Text message buzzes!
Have you ever gone down a strange work spiral where you are doing a thousand things, but not actually getting anything done? Emailing back and forth, checking Twitter updates, or reading blogs about productivity? 😉
Technology loops are what happen with you start binging on apps, click-bait, social networks, and notifications, followed by total lapses in concentration, confusion, disorientation, and wondering how you actually pissed away hours, sometimes days, of your life.
Did you know email and social media is actually designed to be chemically addicting?
Every time you check Instagram it delivers a minor dose of serotonin and oxytocin to you brain.
Multiple scientific studies on animals have also shed some light on why social media and email is addicting: it rewards our ‘lottery brain’.
Let’s say you want to train your dog to sit. So every time he sits, you give him a treat, right?
If you want to train an animal to do something, consistently rewarding that behavior isn’t the best way. The most effective training regime is to give your pet a reward only sometimes, at totally random intervals.
This is called a ‘variable interval reinforcement schedule’. Animals trained on this schedule work harder for their rewards, and take longer to give up once rewards for the behavior is removed.
There’s a logic to this:
Because ‘next time’ might always be the occasion that produces the reward, there’s never definite evidence that rewards have stopped altogether.
When you win at a slot machine, your brain recognizes this as a reward.
But what if you almost win?
You are just one card short of a flush. Or, you get 4 out or 5 numbers right on a lottery ticket. You were so close to hitting pay dirt! And you just missed it.
After enough exposures to an ‘almost win’, your brain begins to recognize ‘nearly winning’ as an actual win. As a result, it produces the same chemical reward.
Email and social media is also addictive because it puts us on a variable-interval reinforcement schedule.
Have you noticed how sometimes (but not every time) checking Facebook produces a reward? Sometimes someone might like one of your photos, sometimes you have an exciting new friend request.
Other times, your inbox and Instagram is ***crickets***. Still, you find yourself compulsively clicking the ‘refresh’ browser button anyway.
Technology is a tool. In the right hands, it can help you make millions, overthrow governments, rub elbows with world leaders, or breathe life and support into a creative vision.
But for most of us, it is a socially acceptable dope habit.
You might be asking yourself: Isn’t it counter-intuitive for a social media maven to offer tips on overcoming tech addiction?
Isn’t that kind of like a crack-dealer opening their own rehab clinic?
In a way, my career started because I was the worst instant gratification addict of all. I have 3 computers, access to over 100 Twitter accounts, 50 Facebook pages and profiles, and an account on almost every social media network in existence.
To get any work done, I had no choice but to defy technology loops to find my own mind-fi zen.
I found a way to rise above the addiction and use my Internet obsession as a tool.
A tool to connect with heroes. Make a profit. Share a vision. Make exciting things happen. And that is what I want to help you do too.
What happens when you pull the plug on the news feed?
What happens when you stop mindlessly consuming and start to consciously create?
Without further ado, below is a list of tool and tricks I use that allow me to check Twitter 10 times a day, without lapsing into an instant gratification spiral (most of the time).
The first step to resolving a technology addiction fix is to admit you have a problem.
The second is to install Google Chrome as your default browser so you can use the plugins below.
With this plugin, the New Tab page gives you a moment of calm and inspires you to be more productive. Set a daily focus, track your to dos, and get inspired with a daily photo and quote. Eliminate distractions and beat procrastination with a reminder of your focus for the day on every new tab load. Join over 1 million users and get inspired to create the life you want to live.
Do you ever check Facebook with a task in mind, and then accidenally disappear for hours consumed by the bottomless pit of your News Feed?
Do you want your life back, but can’t bear to delete Facebook altogether?
Enter News Feed Eradicator. Your life will never be the same again.
News Feed Eradicator removes your news feed (and live ticker) and replaces it instead with an inspirational quote.
Whenever you find yourself with too many tabs, click the OneTab icon to convert all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once.
Buffer automatically posts social media content for you. You can batch schedule your social media updates, and relax while they automatically post and you can think about other things.
Brain.FM produces music designed for the brain to enhance focus. Apparently you can also use it to relax, meditate, or nap, which are all things I need to start doing.
Thanks to AppSumo, I purchased a lifetime membership when this little company was just getting started.
This is my ‘break glass in case of emergency’ solution for an Internet spiral. I just put the music on and it lulls me into a focus trance.
It supposedly works within 10 – 15 minutes of use, but I experience results sooner.
Sometimes the music it SO intense, it makes me feel like I’m on a Lord of the Rings battle quest through the mountains. But I can’t argue with the results.
While Interneting can an effective use of time, it is crucial not to let it get in the way of making great strides and doing the 20% of tasks in your life that will really make a difference.
Do you have any amazing tools that keep you focused? Post them in the comments. I would love to add to this list.