Tips for fighting tech addiction

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In these troubled technological times, it’s easy to get obsessed with the Internet and lose track of what’s happening around you. Now, on weekends when you’ve got nothing to do except binge-watch Orange is the New Black, that’s not too horrible, but it’s a different issue when you’re so focused on tweeting that you can’t focus on class. As someone who’s spent many years struggling to resist the call of the WWWild, let me share some tips on how to stay focused on schoolwork.

Cognitive Awareness

For those with less severe cases of tech addiction, just having a degree of self-awareness can be enough to stay focused. Just think of all the money you’re spending (or alternatively, how much your parents are spending — use that familial guilt!) to attend your classes. Do you really want to be wasting all that money by spending the whole class on Facebook?

Taking (reasonable) breaks

Single-mindedly studying for hours on end is a bit too much to ask of you, but beware the slippery Internet slope that starts with a brief moment of slacking off and devolves into hours of unproductiveness. Personally, I find it more effective to have designated breaks after you reach certain milestones in your studying session. It ensures that you actually get some work done before you slack off, and since it’s part of the plan, even taking your break makes you feel like you’re being responsible — which should reduce the likelihood of you completely losing track of the time on the Internet.

Turn off notifications

If you can’t stay away from checking social media, consider just turning off notifications for a while. While muting your phone in class should be common sense, you can go the extra mile and turn off phone notifications entirely, giving you zero reason to even check your phone. Facebook can allow you to mute notifications and even mute messages for an hour (or indefinitely), allowing you to pretend you’re totally friendless for a while, meaning you have no reason not to focus in class.

Side note: While isolating your friends to the point where no one tries to get in contact with you is an effective way to deter you from checking social media, I can not advise it.

Lock down your Internet

Turning off your Wi-Fi in class or while you study is a pretty obvious way to stay off the net, but some people might need something a little bit stronger. There are lots of apps that can turn off your Internet access for a set amount of time, meaning you suddenly have a lot less things to occupy your time (just make sure you don’t need to look up anything). Some of the apps cost money, which might be a bit excessive, but there are plenty of free apps or trial versions.

Go off the grid, onto the sheet

My final tip is elegant in its simplicity: just don’t use technology. Not for the rest of your life, obviously — just when in class or when writing up study notes. In fairness, not using a laptop to keep notes can be inconvenient — you can’t write as fast and your notes will (probably) not be as conveniently filed. Still, it guarantees you won’t get distracted, and in the few times I’ve had to resort to pen and paper in class, I actually found myself to be way more invested in the material.

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