Fighting Phone Addiction With Beeminder

The original goal
For a while I have been trying to fight my phone addiction. I currently have multiple goals to try and accomplish this. However, to start out this thread I would like to start with a goal that has been in place since 03/28/2023 though I changed the way I was using a yesterday. The main idea of the goal was that I would have a limited amount of app opens on my phone/ipad. I setup a shortcut in iOS to trigger when certain apps I considered potentially distracting (I beleive I have 30 apps setup for this). I set the limit to 50 app opens a day to start out with (I think I get a bit confused on how to look back at prior day rates).

The Problems with the Original Goal

  1. The main problem was that 50 opens was kind of restrictive (or what ever it was). Which I mean was partly the point but I was having trouble doing things like say looking up medical issues. As that would burn up my app opens. I could just delete the data points but felt kind of wrong.

  2. So after that issue I went to 150 a day. However, this had the opposite problem. I felt 100 would not be restrictive enough.

  3. There were some apps I wanted to put in but would increase the app opens too much.

The Soultion: Super Low Limit & Require Logging
I started the implementation Saturday but was not fully figured till today (Sunday). After a day of using it I have been happy with the results. Here is how it is setup:

  1. First of all I ratcheted it down to 15 opens .

  2. I changed the shortcut to where it will put in a value of 2 instead of 1 (should of done 16 more on, also trying to figure out exact amount but feels close to right).

Now from the above it seems like it makes it worse but it actually makes it better. As now I must do the following for every app open.

  1. After I am done using an app I have a notifcation pop up that reminds me to open Beeminder to edit data.

  2. I open Beeminder and I find the data point that was just created. I click on it to edit it.

  3. I will either change the primary value to a 1 or a 0. A 1 means I just opened the app for no reason and it was not really needed. I then will go to the comment filed and the app name and explain I opened the app mindlessly. If it is a valid reason then I will put a zero in the value and then in the comment I will put the name of the app and the valid reason I am using it.

Now if you read the steps above you are probably thinking it sounds like a pain to have to go in and log every possible distracting app after opening it. This is correct and it has made me really think before opening an app. As I now really consider, is it really worth opening this app right now? Below is some data from today. It is nice to see when I open apps and the why I do.

What do y’all think of this method? I will keep everyone posted if this method continues to work well.


Just as an update has still been working good. Half the time I think of opening a app on the list I end up thinking “not worth it too much effort.” Also I removed settings app and mail app from the trigger.

Mail: I use for my Gmail I made specifically for Beeminder.

Settings: I use to help track my screen time so it was a pain having that in there. I have not noticed an uptick in screen time from this change.


That’s pretty much the nuclear option, but I like it.
What I wouldn’t like is using this method in a social context. For instance, if I want to add someone on Instagram. I already have “one sec” which makes me do a breathing exercice before having the right to open the app, LOL.

It inspires me to do something simpler, though:

  1. On app open, open a dialog saying “are you opening this app for something necessary, or to get a dopamine shot?”. Then, I have two buttons. This would be a do-less goal
  2. Every 15 minutes: “are you using the app for distraction?” Then, I can click “yes, send data point if I’m still using the app in one minute” and “no, I truly need it”

Which is kind of what I do with time limitations, except there are no punishments for just ignoring the time limitations…

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In the past few days I’ve been trying to simply think “my intention for opening this app is X” when I open an addictive app like facebook.

For instance, “I want to see if I got any likes”. I can do it as many times as I want, no limit. But a) often I just think “nah” and b) after I check the likes I immediately close the app, no mindless scrolling.

We’ll have to see if it still works in a few months, though.


Yea time limitations never worked for me. I would either ignore them or just spend my time in another app after a time limit hit.

Yea this was kind of my last resort because while I had been doing better I was still not where I wanted. With this though I have been doing great. Currently I am under 2hrs of screentime.

I do not really run into this situation a lot. Though on iOS I would probably create a focus mode for it. Probably call it something like “Social” and not have the limitations apply for social apps. I kind of already have something kind of like that for work. As if I open apps during work time it will log to a different Beeminder goal (workphonedistract – linux535 – beeminder) Also apps like the Edge browser are allowed so if I need to look something up for work real quick and does not count towards my normal apps goal. I have the focus auto turn on and off based on time. I am not sure but maybe Android might have something similar with different focus modes? Maybe something like tasker can pull the current focus mode.

I feel like this is a happy medium. I am too weaselly though so I feel like I would just click on necessary to often (I have actually tried this when not using beeminder). With the current setup it automatically docks me and I actually have to go in to change it. Thus far I have had no temptation to weasel.

I tried this but I have too much of a screen addiction for it to work with me. Needed with something with more teeth. But I hope it works out for you :grinning:


Update I have removed bank apps from list of triggers. I am going to see if it causes a major uptick in phone usage. I feel my main pain spot was the web browser honestly but we shall see. If it causes issues I will add back.


I was so badly addicted I had to switch to a flip phone with its minor inconveniences (sunbeam F1)

Worked quite well thank God. Like returning heroin snorting Vietnam vets I just got out of it.


Yea I actually tried a dumb phone but did not work out as I work in the tech field.

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“I want to see if I got any likes…” is the comment that popped out to me in this thread. It will be very difficult to end a phone addiction if you’re checking for likes. The apps have you exactly where they want you… Nothing wrong with checking social media apps, but in my opinion, it’s like saying “I know I’m an alcoholic and I have no control over my drinking, but I need to taste every new craft beer.”
I suggest reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. He lays out a plan for a Digital Detox. It has helped me. Good luck!


I actually listened to the audio book awhile back a great book! I should listen to it again as it has been a few years. Thankfully my Beeminder goals have been effective thus far. Also the first couple weeks were rough I would have digital cravings. But now I have been not having those feelings and have been much happier. If I remember right he actually mentions how the first couple weeks can be rough.


Well, before this I would check the likes anyway but also keep scrolling for twenty minutes, and now I only check the likes and then close the app. Which seems like a significant improvement to me because checking likes is only 10 seconds.

I’ll add the book to my reading list though, thanks.