In an ideal world, we’d all have the self-control we need to avoid wasting time, repeating bad habits and breaking promises to ourselves. But our self-control has limits, and there’s nothing wrong with using a third-party tool to achieve your goals.

Here are a few tools to help you track or limit your time on the internet so that you can spend more time doing the things you love!

1. Rescue Time (FREE)

Rescue Time is a great little tool for showing you exactly how you’re spending time on your computer. It tracks the websites you visit, and how long you spend on each one so you can clearly see where your time goes.

Although the basic tool is free, you can also get website-blocking features with the premium version for $9/month (but there are less expensive alternatives, so I don’t necessarily recommend doing that!).

2. Anti-Social ($15)

If you want to block certain sites automatically throughout the day, Anti-Social is a great tool that automatically blocks a set list of sites as well as giving you the flexibility to add additional sites to the list. It’s also hard to turn off, which makes it a more effective tool than one that can be easily overridden.

3. Freedom ($10)

If you’re looking to avoid the internet altogether, Freedom actually blocks your internet access during specific hours of the day so that you have to focus on offline activities (whether it’s the dirty dishes in the sink or writing your thesis).

4. TimeLock for iOS devices ($0.99)

Although Apple’s setup makes it hard to add controls to your iPhone or iPod, TimeLock is one option that you can use to simply lock your phone after a certain amount of daily use.

Other tips for controlling your smartphone usage:

  • Turn off notifications: You don’t need a ding or a buzz every time someone likes one of your Facebook photos or comments on a status that you’ve also commented on. Turn off these notifications for all of your social networks (and email too!) so that your phone is not constantly buzzing for attention!
  • Remove apps: Consider removing apps like Facebook and Twitter from your phone altogether. While I won’t be removing Instagram anytime soon (since that’s my favorite way to capture and share photos of our life), I have thought about removing the rest so that my phone is more of a tool rather than a distraction.
  • Keep the phone out of your bedroom: I struggle with this one because we don’t have a home phone and I want my phone handy in case of emergency (a fire in our home, a call from our parents or sisters, etc.). But taking the phone out of your bedroom is a great way to prevent it from being the first thing you reach for each morning and the last thing you look at each night.
  • Put it in your glove box while you drive: Using your phone while driving is incredibly dangerous, and it’s a trap that most of us have fallen into at one time or another. To keep yourself from giving into the temptation, put it in your glove box where you won’t be able to reach it.

ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS

  1. Install RescueTime on your computer and track your internet usage for a week. Were you surprised by the amount of time you spend on certain sites? Does the idea of limiting that time worry you?
  2. Setup a monitoring program to block you from using your “time waster” sites beyond a certain amount each day. How tempted are you to override these settings?

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