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Challenge 4: Make an app hard to get at

You need the app – but you don’t want to be instantly drawn to it. Here’s what to do.

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IT’S WEEK TWO of our Live A Better Life series, and it’s all about challenging yourself.

Today’s challenge isn’t particularly difficult, and shows that sometimes simple tweaks can have big results.

We’ve already brought you Gretchen Rubin’s Strategy of Monitoring, and how it can help you become aware of your behaviour.

Now let’s look at another strategy of hers, and how by applying it we can start to use apps less.

This is the Strategy of Inconvenience. Here’s Rubin explaining it in a video:

Source: Gretchen Rubin/YouTube

“To a very surprising degree, we’re much more likely to do something if it’s convenient and much less likely to do something if it’s inconvenient,” says Rubin.

This is borne out by studies. In a 2000 study in the journal Appetite, secretaries were given containers containing chocolates.

Their chocolate consumption was recorded when the chocolates were placed on their desk, and two metres away.

As the Food Brand Lab at Cornell University pointed out about its study:

Researchers from the Food and Brand Lab found that when the candies were on the desk, the secretaries consumed approximately 48% more than when the candies were two meters away.

It also found that the secretaries “underestimated their consumption of candy by 63% when it was out of arm’s reach. When the chocolates were on the desk, they overestimated their consumption of candy by 13%”.

“Whenever there is something you don’t want to do, make it inconvenient,” advises Rubin.

We’re going to use this advice and apply it to our phones.

If there is an app – or apps – that you need to have on your phone, but want to use less, make it less convenient for you to use that app or apps.

Here’s how:

  • Put the app into a folder

And/or – even more inconvenient:

  • Move the app onto another page on your screen.

If you own an iPhonehere’s how to do it. Touch and hold the app, until it starts ‘jiggling’. Then, keeping your finger on it, you can drag it to another spot – try and drag it to another page or two away. When it’s in place, press the Home button to set it.

To put your apps into a folder, hold and then drag an app onto another app. This will create a grey box (which you can rename if you want). I put my Twitter and Instagram apps into a folder so that there is an extra step before I go into them.

If you own an Android phone, the process is similar. Press on the app (a ‘long press’) and drag to move onto another screen. You also should have the option to delete it from your home screen, but it will still show up when you click into your app folder.

Of course, we have already been applying the Strategy of Inconvenience during this series – in week one, when we moved the phone away from our bed.

Let us know in the comments how you get on with today’s challenge.

Live A Better Life: The series so far>

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