In-ter-net [noun]: A wonderful piece of technology that we have a love-hate relationship with. Allows us to access all information known to mankind in a flash. Is mainly used to post memes to Facebook and watch cat videos.
Do you also find yourself getting distracted by the internet and do you want to stop wasting time online?
Then you’re in exactly the right place!
This will be the only guide to spending your time on the internet more productively that you will ever need! We’ll use a step-by-step process to help you reduce the amount of time you waste on the good ol’ interwebz!
For most people this does NOT mean to eliminate ALL time spent on useless activities on the internet. After you’ve done hard work on the things that matter to you, it a great thing to reward yourself with some leisure time.
This guide is here to help you stop wasting enough time online so that you can actually get those important things done! Rather than procrastinating on them forever!
First I’ll help you figure out exactly how you’re wasting your time.
After that we’ll go into different kinds of time wasters so that you can stop wasting time on the internet, stop wasting time on social media and waste less time on your phone as well!
Each of them will have different methods of dealing with them.
Step 1: Identify How You’re Wasting Time Online
This is the first step.
While you know you may have a problems with spending your time aimlessly wandering around on the internet, do you really know where you’re wasting most of your time?
For this I’d recommend categorizing the websites you visit often.
I personally do it like this:
This is for the websites that are beneficial to you in the long run. Examples could be Wikipedia, sites where you learn about work or passion related subjects, online course platforms like Udemy and things like that.
You want to spend more time here.
In my categorization these are the sites that are “not that bad”. These include sites that bring fulfillment, but overall are not a good place to spend your time. Examples could be, answering people’s questions on Reddit or keeping up with friends on social media.
These are the kind of sites you want to limit your time on.
In my method, I would also categorize sites that are unproductive, but that you only spend a little bit of time on naturally under this category. Just be careful that a dozen of these kinds of sites add up to a lot of wasted time!
These ones are nasty. These sites are utterly useless in terms of productivity, yet they’re often fun at the moment. However, you’ll feel terrible afterward, because you wasted your time. Examples could be 9 gag, online games, and other “for fun” websites.
You want to eliminate these to avoid feeling guilty.
This is the hardest category. Sites that fall into this category could fit into either of the other categories depending on how you use it. For example, if I’m looking at memes on Facebook, it’s category red. If I’m posting things to my page or engaging with my potential audience, that fits into the green category.
The fact that they can change categories makes them difficult to deal with.
You’ll probably be able to list the sites that you frequent, which is a good start. Begin with categorizing those. But if you want to dig deeper, I’d recommend getting to the bottom of your internet usage.
How to Figure Out Where You Spend Your Time Online
It’s not just about which sites you visit, but also how much time you’re actually wasting on the wrong webistes.
For this you can use a Chrome website timer, like this one.
What this Google Chrome extension does is track how much time you’re spending on each website. By using a tool like this you’ll be able to track exactly where your time management issues are.
Just spend a week or so normally.
During this week don’t try to do anything differently than you usually do. If you’re actively changing to change your behavior at this time, you’re going to screw up your baseline.
Once you have the data, write it all down.
Some of the insights you’ll find might surprise you. When you see all the sites and how much time you spend on each, it’s time to take all of your frequent sites and categorize them in your categories.
How to Figure Out How You Spend Your Time On Your Phone
Your laptop or computer is only part of the issue however.
You carry one of the most prominent time-wasters known to mankind today in your pocket with you wherever you go, your phone.
I love technology!
However, just like money can be used to help people in need and bring massive change for the better, it could also be used for evil. In the same way your phone can help you enrich your life, or be one of the most detrimental things in your life!
You need to become aware of how you spend your time on your phone, so that you can spot the apps where you waste too much of your precious time.
If you’re not aware, you can’t make a change!
How to See How Much Time You Spend on Android Apps
This will depend on the kind of phone you have.
If you have a Google Pixel device, then there is already a default app installed on your phone where you can find all the needed information.
It’s call Digital Wellbeing.
Go to Settings –> Digital Wellbeing and you will see an overview of all your activity. Again, take note of the apps that you use frequently, the time you spend on them, and which category they fit into.
If you don’t have a pixel phone, there’s an app for that.
One of the best ones out there as of writing this is Quality Time, Not only does this time tracker for Android let you know how often you open certain apps & how much time you spend on them, it also has features to help you limit your time on them.
How to See How Much Time You Spend on iPhone Apps
On iOS you can do the same thing.
Simply go to Settings –> Battery and you’ll see your battery usage for all your apps. Next to the options for “Last 24 Hours” and “Last 7 Days” there is a little “Clock” icon.
Just tap on that.
Your iPhone will now show you how much screen time you have for each of your apps in the last 24 hours or 7 days. This should give you a pretty good idea of what your time wasters are.
Step 2: Identify Your “Green” Category Websites, Apps and Activities
This is a step most people miss!
It’s also arguable the single most important step to help you stop wasting your time online, so don’t take this lightly!
Here why it’s key:
Oftentimes people want to make a change, and they delete time-wasting apps from their phone or limit certain websites. However, this leaves a black hole, a void in their lives. You now suddenly have all of this extra time in your day that you were just wasting before.
It leaves them with more time than they know what to do with…
Boredom kicks in, which is one of the key factors that make people fall back into bad habits! When you’re feeling bored after ridding yourself of apps and websites, you’ll find yourself unconsciously drawn to them again and again.
It’s something that you programmed into your mind!
How to Fill the Void
Quitting alone doesn’t work!
This void you have created for yourself is like a black hole, they suck in everything around them. This black hole just wants to be filled.
If you just try to quit, your mind will try to fill in the void of time with whatever. Anything! If you’re not consciously replacing the time you wasted online, it will likely be filled with other useless activities.
You’re just moving the fucking problem, not eliminating it!
Instead, look for beneficial activities to fill the void:
- Figure out what you’re passionate about, and fill time with activities that cater to that passion.
- Create good habits that make you a better person.
- Read books to become smarter.
- Exercise, learn new skills, do something you “never had time for”
- Or, still spend your time on your computer or phone, but spend it on apps or websites that benefit you instead.
Check out this list of activities you can pick up.
I’ve created a free training for you that will teach you exactly how to create habits that actually stick! So I’d recommend getting that free video training.
For this post, I’ll focus on the last part, but there are hundreds of things you can do!
What I like you to do for this step is to think of, and make a list of websites and apps that you can use to fill the void. Places where you can spend your newly found time in a way that makes you better off. Being on the internet for hours doesn’t have to be wasted time!
- The random Wikipedia page feature (knowledge is never bad)
- Educational YouTube channels and blogs (like this one! wink wink)
- Online courses and education
- Sites & apps for learning a new skill
- Apps like Zest (marketing) or DeepStash (personal development). You’ll likely be able to find ones related to what you want to learn.
- Start an online business and use the internet productively.
Those will hopefully give you an idea.
The goal here is to figure out the replacements for the bad internet and phone usage you have before you get started with eliminating the bad habits.
Step 3: Eliminate & Limit Your Internet Usage
Now it’s time to really quit wasting time online!
The previous steps have been all about identifying the problem and creating your new alternative behavior. But now it’s time to start systematically get rid of your distractions!
We’ll do things step by step, depending on the category of websites.
Here’s what I’ll be covering:
- Unproductive Websites
- Social Media
- Your Phone
How to Stop Wasting Time on The Internet
We’ll start with the websites that you visit first, by category of course.
These are the worst offenders, so we get rid of them first.
By my categorization, these are the sites to eliminate altogether instead of limiting the time you spend on them. Unlike the other categories of sites, they serve no real purpose so it’s time for them to go.
If you have an account in any of these sites, go ahead and delete the entire account. If it’s a game you spend hundreds of hours on or another site you spent a lot of time on, then this step might hurt a little as you see that “progress” go down the drain.
But it’s for the best!
Not having an account means that if you were to get back into using it again, you’ll have to go through all of the hard work of building things up again, which in itself can be a mountain to climb. It can feel painful
Of course, you could create new accounts, but doing this is barrier.
Next up we’ll block all red sites completely!
While I love for you to be disciplined enough to stop wasting time online on your own, I know that it’s easy to fall back in old patterns. You’re likely reading this because an attempt on your own didn’t have the results you wanted.
For that reason, I like to use a Google Chrome extension called WasteNoTime.
Video Tutorial: How to Stop Wasting Time Online with WasteNoTime.
After installing it, you’ll see this when you click on the icon:
First, we’ll need to go to “Settings”.
It will look like this:
At the bottom, you want to go to “Edit Settings”.
The first thing you want to do is to copy the list of your red, orange, and optionally grey sites as well. Make sure to add the https:// to it, or type it as *.sitename.com.
Alright, we’re about half way done.
What you want to do next is click on the little gear icon on the left of each of your red sites to bring up the options menu. There just select the “Always Block” option.
There’s one final setting to check:
On the “Advanced Settings” page, you have the option to set up a redirect for any blocked website, or once your allowed time is up. You can either use the default page, or set one of your green websites as the redirect.
For example https://theunchained.life so that you can learn more here! 😉
That’s it for Red sites.
However, there is 1 final step to take after you’re done with ALL the sites on your list, so work through the other categories first, and then go to this final, critical step!
Again these are tricky.
I have my method of dealing with them, but truth be told, I’m not quite sure if my method is the most effective one. You can try it my method, or tweak around some of the settings on your own to find what works for you.
Here’s what I do:
Personally, since these sites can be productive, I set a custom time limit for each of them.
The time limit is big enough to do the things I need to do on the site (check stats, post updates, etc.) with a couple of minutes margin. At the same time, I set the time low enough where I know I do have to hurry to get things done.
For this I use the “Use Custom Time Quota” option.
One of the most difficult parts here is to decide for yourself how much time you need to spend on a certain site in order to do the things you need to do there productively.
For these kinds of sites I use the overall time limit.
You can find this setting under the “Time Allowed” tab. If you use your computer for work at a set schedule, you can set your working hours and have different limits for work time and off-time.
If not, you can simply set an overall time limit.
Here’s what these settings do:
This setting will apply to all sites you haven’t set custom rules for in the steps above. After you decide how much time you will allow yourself to “waste” each day, that limit will be shared between all your orange sites.
It doesn’t matter on which of your limited sites you spend your time on, as soon as the time limit is reached, all of these sites will be redirected to the block page or the green website that you set for yourself.
How to Stop Yourself From Altering Your Settings!
Okay, you’ve now taken the steps needed to stop wasting time online!
However, there’s an issue…
Setting up these restrictions only took you a few minutes, meaning that if you wanted to, you could easily change these settings again when you’re feeling the temptation to do so!
But, WasteNoTime has the solution to that as well:
Under the “Challenge” tab, you have the option to set a password that is needed to change any of your settings. Meaning that you’re unable to give yourself more time or unblock websites.
If, and only IF you follow these 4 rules:
Rule 1: You do NOT set your own password, period! If you know the password, you can easily enter it, which beats the purpose. You let someone else set and write down the password.
Rule 2: This person is not allowed to give you the password under any circumstance. No matter how you plead or whatever reason you give them. Tell them this, and make sure to pick someone who won’t give in.
Rule 3: Tell them you’re not allowed to loosen restrictions without good reason. For example, you started a blog and Facebook is now a grey site instead of red because you also use Facebook for business now.
Even in this case, have them challenge you about the need and allotted time. The person you choose has the final say in the matter!
Rule 4: If a change under Rule 3 is accepted or you want to tighten restrictions further, your dedicated password keeper is the one who makes the edits to your settings! And of course they make sure you can’t see them type the password.
Make sure your partner knows all 4 rules.
If these seem extreme, remember that your current internet habits have become the standard for you. Meaning that your unconscious will fight against you at first to maintain this thing it thinks is a part of who you are!
It will take discipline to tell yourself that’s not you anymore and that this is for the best!
But you can get through this!
How to Stop Wasting Time on YouTube
YouTube is a tricky beast with only 1 goal:
YouTube wants you to come to and stay on YouTube, forever if possible! To do so it “conveniently” present you with the videos it thinks you’re most likely to want to watch so that you keep on coming back.
However, for me, YouTube is not on my “blocked” list.
The reason for this is that for me, YouTube is a site that falls in the green category. I’m either watching something educational, uploading myself or putting music on. The only time waste is looking for a good mix occasionally. Yes, YouTube is productive for me.
In your case, YouTube might be one of the sites you restrict using the method above.
But here’s another method to spend time on YouTube more productively:
Identify channels that are beneficial to you. Start with your goals and dreams, and figure out what skills you need to acquire in order to reach those goals.
Unsure what your passion is? This video training will help you get clarity!
Generally you cannot go wrong with learning more about how the mind works, psychology, charisma, general personal development and personal finance.
Here are some ideas:
- Brendon Burchard
- Charisma on Command
- Cooper Academy
- School of Life
- The Unchained Life (wink wink)
- Gary Vaynerchuk
- Millenial Money
These channels will help you become the best version of yourself that you can be. These are the kind of videos and channels that will help you in all areas and stages of your life.
Next, you should create a new account or channel.
The reason for this is that you’re already getting a lot of video recommendations on your current account. More likely than not, these will include things about your interests, which may be distracting you and leading you to waste time on YouTube.
A brand new account solves this issue!
YouTube doesn’t know what kind of videos to put in front of you, until the algorithms look at the kind of videos you’re watching and the topics you search for. It has no clue, so you’ll see a lot of “trending” and popular videos. YouTube is literally just guessing at this point.
We’re going to use YouTube’s algorithm in our favor!
It’s time to reverse the roles!
YouTube’s (and other sites’) algorithms are training us to pay attention to the platform. But in this case, we are going to train it instead!
On your new account/channel, you’re going to subscribe to all the channels you picked from your list. And then you’re going to watch some of their videos. And you will stick to only their videos as well as recommended videos that actually contribute to you reaching your goals.
I cannot stress that enough!
Do not click on any videos that do not help you improve your skills or knowledge in areas that matter to you! Only watch videos that help you make the changes you want to make in your life.
And guess what?
Doing this for some time signals to YouTube that you’re interested in personal development and improvement. It will then start recommending helpful educational (green category) videos to you!
Now, your home screen and suggestions are assets to you, not disctractions!
When you reward yourself with some more fun videos, don’t watch them on your new account, or you’ll screw it up! Either use incognito mode, or a different account (switch back before ending your session).
And that’s how to stop wasting time on YouTube, and make it productive instead!
How to Stop Wasting Time on Facebook
That’s 1 behemoth down!
If you’ve been reading this guide so far, you’ll have noticed that I don’t like to rely on just discipline alone. I prefer to put technological barriers in place to reduce distractions and add productivity.
The same goes for Facebook.
Your news feed conveniently shows you the highlights from your groups, friends, and liked pages. They show you the posts that get a lot of engagement and those from pages/people you’re likely to engage with.
They play right into your psychology:
By doing this they show you the “exciting” updates from people you know, rather than the mundane ones. They want you to keep scrolling to find out what other fun things other people are doing (that you might not be).
Let’s get rid of the issue!
Sidenote: It’s also just people’s psychology. By just posting the great stuff, they want to be perceived as more fun, outgoing or “high-class”. They want you to think their lives are awesome, while the grass oftentimes isn’t any greener at all.
But that’s the story for another day.
How to Handle Facebook
There are multiple ways to stop wasting your time on Facebook.
The first method, I have covered above, which is to simply use the WasteNoTime extension to block Facebook. It’s the simplest, and most effective way.
But, it might not be ideal for you specifically.
Perhaps you’re like me, and you use Facebook for business as well, or it’s a form of communication with certain people that you don’t want to cut out for some reason.
In that case I recommend a 2-step Approach:
- Still use the WasteNoTime extension but set a time limit.
- Clean up your news feed as well as your groups sections.
We try to cut out the weeds, while keeping the flowers.
With this method, the best we can really do is to limit the time waste as much as possible. Of course Facebook will still fight back as hard as it can to keep you on the platform as much as possible, hence part 1.
News Feed Cleanup
It’s like one of those flesh eating plants.
Your news feed tries to lure you, its prey, in and then devour your time! It’s really a dangerous predator disguised as a fun website with a smart UI design.
However, many people don’t realize you can customize your news feed!
Let’s do just that!
This is an easy first step.
The first thing you want to do is go over to your own profile and click on “About“. When you scroll down, you’ll see your friends, photos, videos, followed by pages that you like.
Under the “Likes” section, click on “See All“.
For most pages, this is simple:
For any page that does not contribute to your greater goals and aspirations, hover over the page and click the button that says “Liked” to unlike the page again, preventing it from ever showing in your news feed!
For good pages:
If there are pages that are beneficial to your growth, control+click on each of them to open them in a new tab. Click on the 3 dots on the right and select “Follow Settings“.
Here you’ll see options for your news feed and notifications:
These are the default settings.
If it’s a page you want to see more of, you should select the “Favorites” option under your news feed settings to make their posts show up higher. Notifications are mostly up to your preference, but I’d try to keep those to a minimum.
On this note:
Now that you’re in the process of designing your news feed the way you really want it, now might be a good time to start following some pages that motivate and educate you instead!
Finally there might be 1 or 2 exceptions.
For example, if you’re part of a sports club, you may not want to unlike it, as it can look like you no longer support the club. On the other hand, you don’t want to see posts on Facebook, because they’re a distraction.
Luckily, there’s a setting for that!
Check that box, press update and you’re done!
You still like the page, but you’re not seeing their posts show up in your news feed again. Note that they can still tag you in posts.
This is likely the “hardest” part.
With your Facebook friends you have the same option of remaining friends with them while not seeing any of their posts. And that’s actually what I would recommend doing with most of your Facebook friends.
Do you really care about what Susie, who you haven’t seen in 9 years, is up to?
What I’ve personally done is to only keep on following updates from a few true friends. Just the people that I see regularly in real life. I’ve unfollowed everyone else, while staying friends.
Again, go over to your profile, but this time to the “Friends” section. From there on, click on each of the “Friend” buttons and select the option “Unfollow“.
After this you’ll see a lot less useless updates!
This is another potential time sucker!
I’m part of quite a few groups myself, which I use to help people and distribute my articles. On the other hand I’m aware that Facebook groups can be a huge distraction as well.
I know the temptation of groups!
Therefore, I’d recommend completely leaving all groups that don’t contribute to your life, even if they’re fun to engage in at the time.
Here’s how to go about it:
First, go to your Facebook groups page. On the left of the page, you will see a list of all the groups that you’re a part of. Unfortunately, the only way of leaving a group is to go to each group and leave manually.
Go ahead and leave any groups that are unproductive for you.
Just get rid of those distractions!
After going through these steps, your news feed will look a lot better.
Instead of photos from people you don’t really care about (only to feel worse afterwards), you’ll only see updates from close friends, and content that helps you become the person that you want to be.
It would be better for your productivity and development to avoid the place altogether, but if you do have to go there, then this is a way to waste less time on Facebook and make it more productive instead.
Note: You can use this same process for Instagram and Twitter as well.
How to Stop Wasting Time on Your Phone
Perhaps the biggest time waster of them all.
This is the reason I told you how to see which apps you’re using on your phone. Oftentimes people are not aware of HOW they spend their time on their phone.
It’s just that, suddenly…. 3 hours have passed in the blink of an eye!
The apps you have on your phone all have mechanisms to get you to use and stay in the app. Think of community, encouragement within the app, and perhaps the most noticeable: push notifications.
Again there are ways we can use technology to waste less time here.
Ultimately, you want to have your day filled with activities that are fulfilling to you and that help you become the best you. This way you’re too busy to even pay attention to the blursed device.
When taking a look at your app usage, I recommend categorizing your apps just like you did with the websites you visit. This will help you decide which of the available methods to use.
Most apps use FOMO to drive people crazy and keep them coming back. We’re trained to think “Oeh, something new!” everytime our phones buzz, ring or light up. And suddenly we have it in our hand checking it out…
Therefore the first thing to do to spend less time on your phone is to disable most or even all notifications! This way you’ve got way fewer distractions throughout the day, leading to you picking up the darn thing less often.
Disabling Notifications on Android
This is really easy to do!
On your phone, just go to Settings –> Notifications at the bottom you will see a list of all the apps you have on your phone. Simple toggle any apps you don’t want to get notifications from off!
If you know spending too much time on your phone is a problems for you, I’d recommend turning off everything except for calls and text messages.
Less is more here!
Disabling Notifications on iOS
On an iPhone it works the same way.
Go to “Settings –> Notifications –> App you want to disable notifications for. From there on, you simple toggle off the setting “Allow Notifications” at the top of the screen.
You can also customize how and where apps can show notifications.
When in doubt, just block them completely.
Obliterate Useless Apps and KEEP Them Away!
It’s really easy to delete an app you’re wasting time on.
Poof, it’s gone!
However, if you tried that before, you may have found that a few days later, the app is “mysteriously” back! Or that 3 other, equally distracting apps have taken their place!
This goes back to the creation of a black hole that I shared earlier as well as the addicting nature of many apps. But this wouldn’t be the ultimate guide to quit wasting your time online if I didn’t have a method to prevent you from installing new apps again!
Prevent Yourself From Downloading Apps on Android
Again, for this step you need someone you can trust.
I know.. I know…
It does sound weird at some level that you need someone else to monitor what you do on your phone like you’re a child. However, you’re likely here because you know that you have a tendency to cave into the desire.
So, the less control you have, the better!
There are 2 methods that you can use:
After some experimenting I found 1 fool-proof method to prevent you from wasting time on your phone by blocking all app downloads. As you’ll see in a bit, this method does require a high level of trust between you and this other person.
The other method isn’t quite fool-proof, but the other person has less control.
Method 1: Set Up Google Family Link
This is the method where you need high trust.
For this method, we’ll use Google Family Link, which is an app made for parents to monitor and restrict what their children can do on their phone. You’ll be essentially giving the same kind of control to the other person.
There is a reason this app has a 1.4-star rating out of more than 118 thousand reviews! Kids HATE this app with a passion because someone has a lot of control over the device from this app!
- Disabling/Uninstalling currently installed apps.
- Seeing what apps you use.
- Seeing how much screen time you have on each app (they can’t see the actual screen).
- Set a bedtime for you (disables your phone after a certain time).
- Restrict screen time to a certain limit.
- See your phone’s location
- Limit which sites you can browse on the internet. (they don’t see your history)
- Enable safe search and content filters for Google and YouTube. (again, they don’t see your view history)
- And of course, they have to approve any app you download!
This app is brutal!
I’ve tested the app on an Emulator, and it gave me pretty much control to restrict whatever I wanted on the test device, which is WHY this is so effective! It is also why I recommend doing this only with someone you trust.
Any of the rules can be relaxed, which is something you should talk about and decide on. It depends on how harsh you think they should be.
Note: If the worst happens (a fight for example) and they lock you out, you will be able to break out. The process completely locks your phone for 24 hours though and your partner will be notified!
Ready to Proceed?
Got someone you trust?
Then it’s time to stop wasting time on your phone once and for all!
First you both need to download the apps to each of your phones.
Step 1: Start the Setup on the “Parent’s” Phone
On their phone they need to initiate the process.
In the setup process select that the “child” already has a Google account. I’m assuming that you have one. If not, select the option to create a new account.
Afterwards, they’ll see a code at the bottom of their app:
Step 2: Input the Code on the “Child’s” Phone
Open the app on your phone.
On the bottom right of your screen select the option that says “This Device“.
Next, you will need to select which Google account to monitor.
Unfortunately, the downside is that you can only have 1 associated account with your phone. So if you have your device connected with multiple accounts, you’ll be signed out on those on your phone.
After selecting your account click on the “Next” button on the following page.
Next, you need to input the parent code:
Step 3: Grant the “Parent” Access
After entering the code, you need to enter your password to confirm it’s you.
On the page that follows you’ll see the name, email address and picture of your accountability partner’s Google account. Confirm that the account is correct and then click the blue “Join” button.
Your trustee needs to confirm this on their phone as well.
On your own phone you’ll see a list of things that your trustee has access to. As you can see, it’s a pretty extensive list, but you can turn off certain features that you don’t need as well. When you’re ready, click “Next“.
Next there are 2 more confirmations.
Firstly, as soon as you click the “Next” button, you’ll see a notification at the bottom of your screen, where you need to click the “Allow” button on the bottom right.
Then you’ll see a page with the permissions again.
On this screen, you need to click the button that allows permission from the device manager. I got a bit excited here and clicked the button before writing down the exact text (Sorry!).
Step 4: Remove Any Unwanted Apps
This is the step you should go through together.
On your phone you will see a list of all the apps that are currently installed on your device with an option to toggle them on and off at the right of your screen.
Here’s what it looks like:
This is an important page!
Carefully go through the entire list of apps together.
Any apps that toggled off (slider to the left, and grey bar) will be deleted as soon as you finish this step! Meaning toggle off any games and unproductive apps that you’re wasting time on!
Want to keep a certain app? Explain WHY it should stay to your partner.
If you can’t think of a good reason, it should probably go!
Double check to see if all the unproductive apps have been toggled off, say your last goodbye to them and then click the “Next” button at the bottom to get rid of your time-wasting apps for good!
Congratulations, you have completed the setup!
Step 5: Adjust the Family Link Settings
For this, you’ll need to access the “parent’s” phone.
When you open the Family Link app, you might see the following screen. If not, you will need to use the back button once to get to this point. For now, take a look at the main menu:
I’ve circled the 2 settings we will use to help you stop wasting time on your phone.
Whenever you try to install any apps on your phone, your trustee needs to go to the “Approval requests” tab to view them and either accept or reject. If they do their job well that means no Raid: Shadow Legends for you!
Next, click on your name and you will see this:
You will see all of the mobile devices where you are signed in into this account.
To get started, click on “Manage settings”.
On the next screen, you will see a variety of options and settings. In order to save you an avalanche of screenshot, I’ll simply go over each of the items in the menu and my recommended settings. You can wasting your time on your phone, I’m pretty confident in your ability to press these buttons. 😉
- Google Play: Under “Purchases & download approvals” set it to “Require approval for all content”. This makes it so that you need approval even for downloading an app, even if you’re not installing a paid app or making an in-app purchase. The rest of the settings are pretty much useless for our purpose.
- YouTube: I would keep restricted mode off, since we’re dealing with adults here. Instead, I would just recommend using the YouTube method above to use YouTube productively.
- Google Chrome: I would recommend the “Try to block explicit sites”. Under “Manage sites”, you can block your red category sites which is the most useful function. If agreed upon between the 2 of you, you can allow the “explicit sites” if you so desire.
- Google Search: I would personally keep SafeSearch off, since we’re not children here. Unless you happen to be a naughty parent trying to force this upon your children despite my warming. In which case, shame on you!
- Account info: You’re not going to be using this. The only reason to come here is to stop supervision of the account, which completely goes against this guide of how to stop wasting time on the internet and your phone.
- Account supervision: Nothing to see here either, move along. The page basically summarizes the things you can do with supervision and gives you the option to end it as well, but why go through this guide only to do that?
- Controls for signing in: This one is mostly up to you. If turned on, you need your trustee to give you permission to sign into your account on Apple products and websites. I don’t really see the need, as it’s mostly going to be for email. However you might want to consider it if you find yourself using Google login to quickly create and use new accounts on your red or orange category sites.
- Controls for third party apps: This functions similarly. Some apps require you to sign in with your Google account. If turned on, you’re going to need permission for that. I don’t really see the need, since your trustee controls which apps you can download anyway, so I’d leave this one off.
- Location: Just leave this one off. We’re here to stop your unfruitful use of your phone, not for them to play detective.
- Privacy settings: If turned on, they can see what apps you’re using and for how long. It can be useful for them to look at this occasionally and discuss it with the 2 of you. However, it’s not a complete necessecity because of the next steps we’re going to take.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Using these settings alone will get you to spend less time on your phone, but let’s go 1 step further!
If you really want to limit your screen time and stop wasting your time on that blasted device you call your phone, we’re going to limit your screen time. So that once you’ve been using your phone for a certain amount of time on a given day, you get locked out and have to find some actually productive things to do.
From the previous screenshot, scroll down a bit and you will see this:
You’ll see your active mobile devices and can edit both daily limits and “bedtime”.
When you’re ready click that blue “Edit limits” link.
You’ll see this screen:
Changing your phone time limits is pretty easy.
Simply click on the day of the week that you want to edit and you’ll see “+” and “-” signs. Use these to set the time limit for that day. Keeping in mind that you should agree on the daily time limits. When in doubt, your trustee should be strict with you.
You also have the option to apply the same time to all days, weekends or weekdays to save some time.
Once you’re done, hit the “Save” button at the top.
Next, switch to the “Bedtime” tab.
Having trouble with using your phone at night, causing you to sleep badly?
Stop feeling tired and go to bed early with this setting.
As obvious as it sounds, with these settings you can set your bedtime, who would have thought? Your phone will be locked during these hours so that you don’t get distracted by it. So sleep tight and don’t let those bed bugs bite!
And that’s basically it for using the Google Family Link app!
Again, this is the most fool-proof way to stop wasting time on your phone!
Remember, you cannot just delete the app, which is why this works so well.
Backup Method to Quit Wasting Time on Your Android Phone
The above is the method I would 100% recommend.
However, if you don’t have someone that you can trust to this degree, which is significant, there are still options. Although they don’t work to the same degree as using Google Family Link.
So, here’s what to do:
In the Google Play store, either tap on your icon in the top-right corner or the 3 lines (depending on your version) and go to settings. Over there you will see “Parental Controls” or “Family” followed by “Parental Controls”. Note that Google might change where to find these settings at some point.
Once you turn them on, it asks you to create a pin to access these controls.
Again, I would recommend not setting this pin yourself, as that would make it fairly easy to go into your settings again whenever you feel like it and edit them. The level of control (and thus trust needed) is way lower than with the Family Link app, so if you can find someone to set and keep the pin for you, go for it.
Here’s the unfortunate part though:
Parental controls only allow you to block apps with certain age ratings. Things like PEGI 18, 16, or 12. The most restrictive setting you can use is PEGI 3, which blocks everything above that.
There are 2 ways in which this isn’t ideal:
- Some time wasting apps and games will still be available as the creators put them under PEGI 3.
- Likewise, it’s possible that some apps for productivity have been set to a higher PEGI rating and thus are unavailable.
Part 2 of the Backup Method
The above is only a partial solution to wasting too much time on your phone.
Luckily there is another powerful feature we can use.
On your Android phone, go to settings and scroll down until you find your “Digital Wellbeing” settings. Over here, you will see your phone usage for the current day, with the option to get into more detail by clicking on “Dashboard”. You may be surprised or even shocked at what you discover when you open it.
Even though I do get quite a bit of things done and I’m fairly productive, I was pretty shocked to see that I’ve wasted about 2 hours on my phone today. Since I get quite a few things done, I never really looked at this much, but it turns out I need to stop wasting time on my phone as well.
So let’s do just that shall we?
I’m going to show you exactly how I’m setting this up so that you can do the same!
Let’s start just below the part where the screenshot above ends.
There are 3 main ways in which you can stop your wasteful phone behavior and phone addiction:
- Bedtime Mode
- Focus Mode
Let’s start with Dashboard.
When you open it, you will get a breakdown of the time you spent on your phone. You will see exactly for how long you have been using each app, which is fantastic! This allows you to eliminate the problem! Besides each of your apps you will see an hourglass.
As you can see, on this day I mainly wasted time on 2 apps.
In order to reduce the time you spent on your phone, click on the hourglass. There it lets you set the daily limit for that app with 0 minutes being to block it completely. I recommend going through the last 2 weeks and setting time limits for all of the unproductive apps you have on your phone (or deleting them outright).
All done? Great!
Remember to check into these settings at least once a month from now on out. You may find that your behavior has shifted to wasting time elsewhere after setting these limits.
Moving on to the next part:
If you’re having trouble sleeping because of your phone, this will be of great help. In these settings you have 3 main tools that you can use: Do Not Disturb mode, Grey colors, and Disabling your screen.
Here are my new settings (sorry for Dutch):
Do not disturb (Niet storen in the screenshot) is to get out of FOMO by not having notifications at nighttime.
Grey colors (grijstinten) will help you out by letting your eyes get at least a bit of rest. The greyscale puts less strain on your eyes so that it’s easier to fall asleep when you put your phone down. It has the additional effect of making it less fun and pleasant to be on your phone in the first place. And trust me, it’s really annoying
Still having problems with being on your phone too much?
Then turn on the 3rd option.
When this is enabled, your screen won’t turn on at all during your sleeping hours.
And finally, Focus Mode.
Once you click on it, you will see a list of all the apps that you have on your phone. Simply select all of the apps that you want to spend less time on. After that, tap on “Set Schedule” to select during which times you want to block these apps. Pick the hours where you want to be productive and not distracted by your phone.
Get your productivity back by stopping these apps during your best hours of the day!
One more thing:
While these are the 3 main tools inside of the Digital Wellbeing settings, there is one more thing that we can do to help you waste less time on your phone. It’s a stupidly simple method, but it works wonders in freeing up your time and helping you get rid of FOMO!
It’s your notifications.
Just below the 3 settings we talked about, you will find Notification Settings. Go ahead and tap on that.
It will look like this:
Turn off notifications for any apps that aren’t useful to you!
And boom! We’re done here!
If you have been through all of these settings, you will be way more productive with your time. It’s been about 2 days since enabling all settings except for notifications and I’m already seeing a big shift in how much time I’m wasting on my phone.
How to Stop Wasting Time on Your iPhone
Unfortunately, I can’t show you any screenshots, since I don’t have an iPhone myself.
However, I’ll be giving you the instructions on how to quit wasting time on your iPhone, step by step.
Let’s get started.
Similar to Android’s Digital Wellbeing, iOS has their own set of settings for controlling your apps and time you spend on your phone. It’s called “Screen Time” and can be found in your settings. Be on the lookout of an icon with an hourglass.
The first time, you might be asked to set a password.
Again, if possible have someone else set and keep the password for you. This will make it so that you cannot go into Screen Time and edit your settings when you’re bored. The less control you have, the better. If you would do fine when having full control, you wouldn’t be reading a guide on how to stop wasting time on the internet, would you?
So let’s put those barriers in place!
When opening your Screen Time settings, you will first see the statistics of how you use your phone. You will see exactly what apps you have used, on what days and for how long. Take a look at the last 2 weeks so that you have a better understanding of how you are wasting your time first.
Once you have that, let’s go through all the productivity functions that iOS has to offer.
The first one is “Downtime”.
What this function allows you to do is to set a timeframe during the day in which you don’t want to be distracted. This could be the hours where you want to sleep, work hours or specific times during which you want to be productive. You can have the same times for every day or set them individually, whatever fits your life.
By default this blocks pretty much everything except for calls and text messages.
However, if there are any apps that you need to use (for example for your work or business), you can go back to your Screen Time dashboard and tap on “Always Allowed”. You will get a list of all your apps where you can select the ones that will never be blocked or limited. Only turn on those you really need, the fewer the better!
Using App Limits
This is the most powerful option within Screen Time to stop wasting time on your iPhone (or iPad).
From your dashboard, go to App Limits and tap on “Add Limit”.
You have already taken a look at the apps that are wasting most of your time, so start with those. You can also select categories of apps, such as social or games. First select the apps that you want to create the limit for and go to the next page to set the actual limit. You can even set the limit only for specific days of the week.
Limit or block your most unproductive apps and then move on.
The next function that you have available is “Communication Limits”. However, for our purpose to get you to stop spending so much time on your phone, this option is pretty much useless.
Content & Privacy Settings
Ever find yourself downloading dumb apps again after uninstalling your time wasting apps?
Let’s put a stop to that.
Under your Content & Privacy settings, you want to first turn on Content & Privacay Restrictions. After that, our first stop will be going to “iTunes & App Store Purchases”. Once you’re in that menu, you will see 3 different sets of settings:
- Installing Apps
- Deleting Apps
- In-App Purchases
For this guide, we will mainly use the first option.
Go to the “Installing Apps” tab and select the option that says to not allow downloading of any apps. And while you’re at it, I recommend turning on “Require Password” as well. Preferably one that you do not have yourself, but rather one set by someone else (if this is not your main Apple ID password of course).
If you have a nasty habit of spending money foolishly in apps, you can restrict in-app purchases as well.
Using the Allowed Apps Settings
This is pretty straightforward.
Once you go to your Allowed Apps tab, you will see a list of all the default system apps on your iPhone. If you find yourself spending too much time on any of the, you might consider blocking them altogether in these settings.
Setting Up Content Restrictions
We’re almost there.
The final settings that we are going to tweak are your content restrictions. Since we have already blocked the installation of apps on your iPhone, we’re already nearly there. Personally I would just look at your settings for shows and movies and block them as much as possible.
The interesting part is the “Web Content” section.
When you press that button, you will be able to restrict sites with inappropriate content. But more importantly, you will also be able to input your own custom list of websites that you spend too much time on. Take some time to list all of the useless sites that you spend time on and just block those altogether!
How to Waste Less Time Online & Be More Productive
As much as I love technology, it can be a huge distraction as well.
If you want to waste less time on the internet or your phone, one of the best things you can do is to find something that you can dedicate your time to. Useless browsing on the interwebz or scrolling on your phone are the result of boredom and not having anything better to do. So occupy yourself with things that actually matter and make yourself too busy to waste time!
That’s your first step.
Besides that, follow the instructions in this guide to systematically eliminate your unproductive use of your phone and the internet. Do not rely on willpower alone. The fact that you need to look for a guide on this means that you are prone to spending way too much time wastefully.
Take things 1 step at a time until you have eliminated your biggest time wasters.
Start with the following things:
- Identify exactly HOW you are wasting time online
- Delete accounts for sites/games/apps you don’t want to use
- Kick FOMO in the gut by turning off notifications
- Install an extension like WasteNoTime
- Use your phone’s Digital Wellbeing (Android) or Sceen Time (iOS) settings
Both internet and phone addiction are real threats for your health as well as productivity.
However, with the right barriers in place, it is possible to stop most of your time wasting behavior! So if you haven’t been following along, now is the time to go through this guide and put all of these barriers in place. Bookmark this page if you think you’ll forget and make sure to share this article with people that need to see this!