It's become a ritual for me during my end-of-year days off. I install Instagram and indulge in memes and reels.
Typically, by the end of January, I reach a point of frustration and decide to go "cold turkey," completely deleting my account. However, this year, I want to explore a different approach because the situation is not simply black or white. I enjoy scrolling as much as anyone else does, I just want to regain control over my use.
Screentime & Co
Most years, I end up using Screentime to limit doomscrolling to 15 minutes a day. Screentime alone is ineffective at controlling your dopamine-seeking brain.
This year, I discovered ads for apps that enhance Screentime's functionalities. These apps, like Opal or Wellspent, provide additional control or steps to make it harder to bypass restrictions. They offer features such as different scheduling/timing rules or various levels of restrictions or unlocking methods. However, they all have one common flaw: they come at a high price, with the most expensive one costing up to $99 per year.
Opal is a beautiful app, yet a complex system for managing time and attention, featuring extensive customization along with numerous growth hacks and gamification elements.
Some of the Apps tested: Opal, One sec, Freedom, AppBlock, Flipd, BlockSite, ScreenZen
Left with the choice of an expensive subscription or holding out for Apple's improvements, I decided to take a different route. I put in some time and a little bit of money to craft what I think is both an affordable and easy-to-use solution.
I started out with some guiding principles for the app's development, keeping in mind it wouldn't be my main source of income.
Rules: We'll start with specific duration limit and hopefully find a way to implement open limit per day
Onboarding: We're keeping it simple and friendly. There's no need for account creation or filling out lots of information. Just give us permission to access Screentime, and we'll help you set your first rule.
Function: Once a restriction is running, you won't be able to stop it or fiddle with its rules. If possible, we'll make it so you can't uninstall the App while restrictions are "running".
Pricing: Ideally, we'd love to give it for free. We'll likely set a teeny tiny price of $0.99 to raise the commitment bar. Given the simplicity of the App, we would be silly to ask for more than a dollar.
Notifications: Zero, none. If anything, we only want to let the user know whether "restrictions" are running or not, or nudge you to add a least one rule.
There will be no ads within the app. We won't be doing any data collection or analytics, other than the bare minimum to help debug. No subscription or up-selling feature to start with. And absolutely no sign-in/sign-up hassles. We believe in keeping things simple and seamless for you.
I began designing an App without much branding, but it seemed too plain. I decided to brand the app and its functions using a well-known metaphor that users would find easy to understand.
"Monkey mind" is a Buddhist concept (found also in Daoism, Chinese poetry and more) to describe a state of restlessness, capriciousness, and lack of control in one's thoughts. This concept came naturally to signify the problem I am hoping to solve and was easy to build a quick brand around it.
The goal of the app is to help you manage your "monkey mind" by setting firm rules. Initially, you'll go through a three-step screen onboarding to establish your first rule while understanding the benefits and principles of the app. Depending on the number of rules created and in effect, the Home Screen header will display a different monkey illustration, more or less peaceful.
Interested in beta test?
We have started the development of our app. Reach out if you're interested in testing the app once we're ready to roll it out.