You already know that you are spending way too much time checking your email across various devices. Are you the person that, after glancing at your email, goes on to spend another hour just fiddling around on whatever device is at hand? Perhaps you are a candidate for these apps that will make you feel mortified about how much time you’re spending in the digital world.
Aware (Mac OS only) lives in your menubar and tells you how long you have been using the computer by detecting that you are moving your mouse or using your keyboard. It will reset itself after a short period of inactivity. It will not nag you to stop using the computer. Presumably you will do that yourself after you see that you have been on your Mac without a break for four hours or so.
Glued is an iOS app that uses a combination of shaming and gamification to get you to put down your phone. You link up with friends and family and compete to use your phone the least, basically. The flaw in this ointment is that you have to actually pick up your phone and open Glued to note that you are about to stop using your phone, and any true phone addict knows that once you pick up the phone to do that, you are done for.
Freedom, which works on Windows, Mac, and iDevices (with an Android app in the works) lets you set up a list of specific websites and apps to block access to so you can use your tech in a more productive way. You can also block the entirety of the internet (if you can get your brain around such an idea.) You set a fixed time you would like to be deprived of your connection to the digital world, and the app knocks you out of being able to access it.
Cold Turkey (Windows only, with a Mac app on the way) is similar to Freedom, but makes it much much harder to get around the block once you start a session. Apparently even attempting to uninstall the app to trick it into shortening the duration of your self-blocking will not work. Consider Cold Turkey the nuclear option, basically.
If using your phone at dinner, when you really should be socializing, is the problem, perhaps you need to take some really drastic steps. IKEA Taiwan built a table where the hot pot is powered by your smartphones. If you start using your phone, you stop powering the hot pot and food gets cold and everyone at the table hates you.
Featured image: “ My design of mobile.” from Shutterstock.