How I put a barrier to spending too much time on my phone: Tasker

I noticed (thanks to Rescuetime) that I was wasting too much time on my phone. You know the feeling: oh, I’m ‘just’ going to check Facebook/reddit and then 45 minutes of you just staring at the same thing has gone by. So I opened up the trusty app Tasker, which people have used for some ingenious things, and made a small profile that I’ll use for a little while: if I open up Facebook or the Internet browser, it immediately closes, and pops up a reminder to think of 3 things I’m grateful for, and to briefly remind myself of the mental opportunity cost I’d pay. Here’s how.

The flow of the program is pretty simple.

First, I have a profile that, if Facebook or the browser is opened, calls a task I call FCC (which you can name anything you want).

In the task, the first thing that happens is a variable FFT is set to 1, from the zero it was previously. It’ll be set back to zero by the end of a task, or by an Exit Task associated with Facebook or the browser, which sets it to zero if they’re closed.

Next, there’s a wait time (in my case, I did a 1 second, but you can do anything), then it checks to see what FFT is. If it’s still 1, the task goes to my home page, kills the app(s), resets FFT to 0, and brings up two popups, one that reminds me of mental opportunity cost, and another that reminds me to briefly think of 3 things I’m grateful for.

It’s pretty simple, but very useful for putting a pattern interrupt into the potential to get sucked into my phone for a while when I would rather be doing something better (the ease of access and novelty is what makes it so potent).

For those who want the task, here’s the XML file. You’ll need to make the profile however, that runs it whenever a certain app(s) of your choice is opened.

Here’s what the task looks like on my screen:









The other task, the one to set FFT = 0, is simple, so I haven’t included it. If you have trouble, feel free to leave a comment though.

If you use this, let me know how it works for you.

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