Digital willpower is an idea that crops up from time to time and it describes our current tech-saturated culture rather well. We all have enough motivation to want to do things but not enough motivation to actually do them. As a result, we turn to technology to bridge the gap of that motivational purgatory.
In the past, we’ve covered inspirational YouTube videos , motivational TED Talks , and encouraging websites to give you that much-needed kick in the butt. How else can technology help you to sharpen your resolve? Where can you get some of this digital willpower for yourself? Keep reading to find out.
If you want to build up your willpower, the first thing you need to do is get rid of everything that steals your attention and drains your energy. Yes, it’s not always possible to rid every distraction, but don’t let that be an excuse. Cut out as much as you can.
Ironically, technology can help our willpower but it is also one of the biggest distractions out there: video games, the Internet, smartphones, television, etc. Indeed, many distractions fall under the greater issue of novelty addiction, which can manifest as Internet addiction , smartphone addiction , video game addiction , and more.
To beat smartphone addiction, you can try the smartphone detox . But if you’re like me, most of your time is sucked away by websites that entice you to click just one more link, then before you know it three hours have gone by. To curb this, I recommend StayFocusd for Chrome (our review ) and LeechBlock [No Longer Available] for Firefox (our review ).
For non-browser-based solutions, check out these methods to block time-wasting websites .
One important aspect of cultivating willpower is to make sure you have enough time and energy for it. For those of us with rampantly busy schedules, it’s easy to compromise willpower for temporary comfort, leisure, and pleasure. It’s vital that you address the root of this issue if digital willpower is going to do anything for you.
Budget your time with a digital calendar. Google Calendar is a standard choice, especially if you use these IFTTT tricks to improve it . The iOS built-in calendar is pretty good but there are some great calendar app alternatives too. Choose whichever calendar you like the best, but make sure you use it to budget your time well.
Prioritize everything that you need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Sort it all out in your calendar to see where all of your time is being focused, then decide which ones are the least important. Cut them out if you can. You’re human and your energy is limited — if you spread yourself out too thin, you won’t have much willpower left.
Timers and Techniques
For some of us, our biggest problem is actually remembering the things we want to do. One reason for this is that our schedules are wound so tight that things just slip our minds. Then again, some of us are just forgetful, period. Either way, if you need periodic reminders, there are plenty of tools that will get the job done.
- Reminders for taking medication on Android and on iOS.
- Reminders through email and SMS.
- General reminder tools for desktops , Android, iOS , Chrome, and Firefox.
Along similar lines, my favorite digital willpower tool is the Pomodoro Technique , a time-based productivity technique that we’ve covered a great deal here at MakeUseOf. By splitting up your day into alternating chunks of work and rest, you preserve motivation and mental energy. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should. It works.
Keep in mind that reminder tools work best when coupled with internal motivation. If you don’t want to do something, a reminder to do it probably won’t give you a significant boost in motivation. But if you want to do something but keep forgetting to do it, these tools will be just what you need.
What if you need to develop willpower to complete the tasks that you have little or no motivation to complete? Good examples are taking out the trash, cleaning your house, writing a paper, or even going out to pick up job applications. Is there something that can help you out?
One of the most helpful tools for this is HabitRPG (our review ), which transforms all of your tasks into an RPG-like game. You earn experience and gold for completing tasks, which levels you up and unlocks more features. The entire concept hinges on positive reinforcement: you are rewarded for your task, which provides instant gratification, feels good and makes you more likely to keep working.
But habit gamification doesn’t have to be that complicated. Using an app that tracks streaks can be useful for generating internal motivation. Habit Streak is great for Android (our review ) and ChainsCC is good if you prefer a web-based tracker.
Technology is both bane and boon. Technology is a distraction yet technology provides ways for us to combat those distractions. Using the numerous tools listed above, you should now be well-equipped to generate and cultivate your willpower.
What do you think? What other apps and tools do you use when you need a boost to your motivation? Share them with us in the comments!