I used to be constantly checking messaging apps. Discord, Telegram, WhatsApp (and Email). They are the most skinner-boxy things I use since I don’t use other social media. But then I read the beautifully titled Distraction Affliction Correction Extension by xkdc and Why Email is Addictive and it turns out the secret to killing an addiction to these sites is really just as simple as adding a cost, and it is incredibly effective.
An easy cost to set up is a delay to opening the tab. What’s key about the delay is that is must be endured: no alt+tabbing around your computer as it loads, otherwise you have paid no cost. The extension Crackbook Revival does this perfectly, politely reminding you on the minimalist waiting page that the timer restarts if you switch away from the tab.
What’s extra cool about the extension is that you can set up increasing costs to procrastinatory behaviour by increasing the wait time on each check. . This is ridiculously effective in making me actively dislike checking these websites. I have it set to disable at 20:00, after the day is done and I can deploy my tired brain on what its best at.
Currently I have my starting time set to 10 seconds, set to climb by 2 seconds on each increase. I would strongly recommend starting at a number lower than this, maybe at 5 seconds, increasing by 1 second each check. A failure mode I doubt is uncommon would be setting a starting point that’s way to high and getting annoyed at the extension and deleting it after a month. Remember, the goal isn’t to do brilliantly now. It’s for you to be able to say in five years that you’ve eradicated this problem by chipping it at so slowly that each individual stage was never hard, but fun.
Funny thing is that this delay probably even more effective than FocusMe, and have found myself rarely checking Discord even when FocusMe allows it. This has given me a massive mental resistance to checking these sites, which I consider a massive win.
Another benefit is that, as I have had to pay the cost quite often for important-on-discord-messages, I’ve gotten more used to sitting in silence for 10-40 seconds at a time, making the times when the internet is buggy far more bearable.
As this is a browser extension, it shares the property they all do, in that they are all notoriously easy to delete. And to change its settings. Personally I find it does not take any willpower at all to not delete the extension (the idea rarely crosses my mind), though if you think this is not something you will be able to handle, something tougher like FocusMe is likely better for you.
Or perhaps artificially bump up the cost of deleting the extension by committing with a partner that you’ll cough up 10$ if you delete it. Though the principle remains: you have to start with a time interval so small you won't want to delete it anyway. If you think you're really prone to deleting it, start at just 2 seconds.
Though my phone is significantly more barebones than it was this time 2 months ago, it unfortunately still is home to an unblocked Whatsapp and Telegram, and am not yet sure how to solve this. An extension like Crackbook for mobile would be heavenly, if you know of something similar please comment.