Dumbing down my iPhone.

Trying to stay away from distractions.

The thought of myself mindlessly scrolling through a world of increasingly diluted content, especially with the advent of generative AI, repulses me to no end. On the other hand, obsessively chasing productivity hacks, like pomodoro timers and blocked calendars, also has a somewhat similar effect. As always, I believe harmony lies in the middle, and that's what we should be striving to achieve.

"Do I have mild ADHD? Maybe, but who doesn't nowadays?" (Jokes aside, please consult medical professionals).

Less Screen Time is Not the Target

Goodhart's Law states that when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure. We're aiming to avoid mindless usage, procrastination, or using our devices to escape focusing on important things. We're not trying to eliminate all forms of pastime and entertainment. Hence, while Screen Time is often a good indicator of time wasted, it's not our primary concern.

App Limits Don't Work for Everyone

Every mind is built differently, so this might not apply to all, but in my experience, app limiters like Opal or Apple's own, which restrict your usage of a particular app/website to a specific time limit, often end up being more of a minor annoyance than anything truly effective. The reason is simple - they're easy to bypass.

What Works for Me

Hard Limits

A Chrome extension called StayFocusd takes a harsher approach. Once your limit is up, there's no turning back, even if you need Reddit for something "important." That "important" thing can surely wait.

If you try extending the time limits, you're reminded of being an indisciplined brat, akin to the "David Goggins" of limiters, and it's more effective.

Uninstalling Every App That Has a Website

Apps are generally superior to their website counterparts. That's the whole point of this trick. By limiting my use of certain apps (e.g., Reddit, my guilty pleasure) to a less satisfying website experience, I still get what I need - the service - but my craving and attention towards it decrease.

So Facebook, Instagram, YouTube will still be accessible, but in a more basic form. Basic is good.

Uninstalling/Disabling Short Form Content

Shorts/Tiktok/Reels are detrimental to modern society. They have an almost mystical power and mess with the wiring of the brain, and are reducing the already miniscule attention spans to even less.

Me after watching 2500 shorts

But wait, even useful websites (Why, youtube?) now offers short-form content, because it brings in retention unlike anything else. Fortunately, we have extensions that can disable that particular part of the website. (e.g. apps like SocialFocus on iPhones and Mac like Youtube shorts, or block access altogether).

Non-Mandatory Apps Stay Off the Home Screen

Every major social, news, or shopping app is backed by a team of data scientists expert at driving engagement or sales. My philosophy is to have a single home screen, where any app I don't use daily for work or essential activities stays out of immediate sight.

Real solution

However , none of these can replace "self discipline", lack of which is root of the problem.