Before & After: Stop Mindless Web-Surfing by Deleting Accounts and Toolbars

Photo of water ripples

I’m writing my next book, Better Than Before, about how we make and break habits–an issue  very relevant to happiness. Each week, I’ll post a before-and-after story submitted by a reader, about how he or she successfully changed a habit. We can all learn from each other.

This week’s story comes from someone who wants to stay anonymous.

The habit I worked on changing was mindless web surfing. I had a series of websites I would visit each day in sequence, even though some had started to bore me, some were full of information that didn’t really add anything to my day, some were specifically for procrastination, and one site in particular (a popular social media service) was grating on my self esteem by causing me to compare my life to many of my acquaintances and friends.

I decided to spend less time every day on this mindless surfing in order to procrastinate less, and improve my feelings of self-worth. I deleted the social media account, removed the other sites from my toolbar shortcut/bookmarks, but most importantly, firmly told myself I would no longer visit those websites.

It really was a case of out of sight, out of mind, as I did indeed stop checking them, gained almost an hour of my life back each day, and did improve my confidence.

This person’s habit change combines the Strategies of Inconvenience and Abstaining—two very powerful strategies. I’ve noticed that when people successfully change a habit, they’ve usually used the combined weight of several strategies.

Technology is a good servant but a bad master, and managing technology is something that many people want to do better. What habits do you use to keep technology in control?



Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter “5 things making me happy”.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.