Did you know that the average person spends nearly 3 hours per day on their smartphone? In fact, most of us check out phone every few minutes!
Now, if you’re anything like me, you almost always have your phone on you.
Between checking social media accounts, browsing Elon Musk meme pages, and digging through random Reddit threads, I frankly spend way too much time on my phone.
So, after doing some planning, I have decided to compile a list of the best self control apps that anyone can use to cut down on phone use to save 1 important resource: time.
If you have more time, you can do more of what you want…you can spend more time on a side hustle, enjoy time with friends or family, and do more of what truly matters.
Time to break down some of the best and free apps for self control.
Let’s get to it!
The Best Self Control Apps – Effectively Limiting Phone Usage
When I started planning out an actual method to accomplish my goal of using my phone less, I knew I had to do something that could be quantified.
It’s easy to make vague goals or resolutions without actually working towards them, so I had to cut down my wasted time in a concrete way.
After realizing that one of the greatest wastes of time comes from phone usage, the idea for this post was born!
I chose a list of self control apps to research, install, and test, and I now believe that these apps are a great way to limit phone use because they make you accountable.
If you are addicted to your phone or want to limit how distracting it can be, I highly suggest taking a look at the following self control apps!
Flipd is one of the most popular self control apps around, and it’s actually the app I have decided to install on my smartphone and use moving forwards.
If you’re looking for a simple app to limit phone use, Flipd is definitely one of the simplest, free ways to get started.
With Flipd, users are encouraged to limit their phone use and remain more aware of their surroundings. Flipd accomplishes this by promoting ‘Mindful Moments,’ which are preset chunks of time that are designed to keep people off of their phones.
Flipd has several useful Mindful Moment categories including ones for work, sleep, study sessions, and 180 minute blocks of time (which is apparently the amount of time researchers suggest you should really be disconnected, or something like that).
Additionally, the Flipd app also lets users completely lock their phone and prevents the use of any apps or notifications for predetermined amounts of time:
Finally, Flipd also lets users play relaxing sounds and explore their featured content, which currently includes sessions of self care or meditation.
I’m not planning on using any features except for the full lock capability, but I’m excited to actively limit my phone use.
Ultimately self control apps like Flipd are what you make of them, but they can certainly help you start the new year off on the right track!
Price: Free for the features you need.
Availability: IOS, Android, and Chrome.
Flipd is great for: People who need a straightforward way to limit their phone use.
Learn more about Flipd on their website!
Out of all the self control apps I looked at, Forest was my second favorite app behind Flipd and I almost decided to keep it installed.
Unlike many self control apps that just use timers to limit phone use, Forest incorporates gamification elements into the mix.
Every time you choose to get off your phone and focus, you plant a tree in the Forest app.
The more time you spend off of your phone, the more your tree will grow. Eventually, you can even earn coins as your tree matures and a new sapling is planted:
The Forest app has some other cool features like a statistics dashboard, and you can also build your own forest with all of the different trees you plant and nurture.
However, the coolest feature Forest offers is the fact that when users with the pro version of Forest spend their virtual currency on trees, Forest actually donates some of their revenue to real life tree planting organizations.
To date, this initiative has lead to almost 370,000 trees being planted, which is pretty cool for a simple app!
Forest also has a Google Chrome extension that allows users to blacklist certain websites, so this could be helpful if you want a productivity tool for your laptop or desktop.
Price: Free for the features you need, but planting real trees requires you to have the pro version.
Availability: IOS and Android.
Forest is great for: People who want to limit their phone use in a fun way.
Learn more about Forest on their website.
Offtime is another popular self control app that is all about living life ‘unplugged.’
Offtime doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but this app is a very effective way to limit phone use and enhance productivity. With Offtime, users can block calls, texts, notifications, and completely pause phone usage altogether.
This app does let you create VIP contacts that can bypass their blocking system, which is smart, and you can also track your usage data and set personal goals.
One cool feature I should also mention is the Offtime activity log function. If you are truly addicted to your phone and struggle with FOMO (the fear of missing out), Offtime actually logs everything that happened while you were away.
This might defeat the purpose of a self control app for some users, but maybe it’s your cup of tea!
Offtime is great for: People who want to use the activity log feature or have VIP contacts.
Learn more about Offtime on their website.
AppDetox is designed to accomplish exactly what the name suggests: help users break their smartphone addiction and ‘detoxify’ from constant phone usage.
While a lot of self control apps use brute force blocking to make users limit their phone use, AppDetox takes a more clinical approach and relies heavily on custom rule sets.
With AppDetox, users can create time limits for individual apps on their smartphone, and the app will notify users if they are breaking any of their rules. AppDetox also logs your infractions in a ‘wall of shame’ sort of way, which I find absolutely hilarious.
If you are generally good at staying off of your phone but have a few troublesome apps you can’t seem to beat, AppDetox might be the perfect self control app for you!
Appdetox is great for: People who need a rule based approach to limit their phone use.
Learn more about AppDetox on their Google Play Store page.
5. BreakFree App – Now the SPACE App
Space: break phone addiction, stay focused. That is the single goal this self control app has, and it’s a good one!
Space is made by the same app creators as the app BreakFree, which also helps users break their smartphone addiction.
I honestly think the makers of BreakFree are rebranding to Space: break phone addiction because Ariana Grande’s song ‘Break Free’ has absolutely destroyed BreakFree’s SEO hopes and dreams:
Jokes aside, Space is a pretty solid self control app that helps people find their phone/life balance.
With Space, users can easily:
- Set goals to monitor and limit phone use.
- Block specific apps, notifications, or even forceably dim the phone screen.
- Enable interruptions that keep you on track when you are breaking your rules.
- Use analytics to track your phone usage.
Space has a pro version of the app that allows users to benchmark their performance against other users or to build habits with other Space users and friends, but this isn’t really necessary.
Space is ranked quite highly as one of the best productivity apps on the app store, and ultimately, this app is a pretty solid way to limit how much time you spend on your phone.
Price: Free for the features you need.
Availability: IOS, Android, and Chrome.
Space is great for: People who want some in-depth analytics and stats.
Learn more about Space on their website!
Freedom is another self control app for smartphones and your computer, and currently have more than 1 million users.
This system doesn’t completely lock your phone or computer from use. Rather, this is a distraction blocker, so it’s the perfect way to boost productivity if you’re on your phone or computer for a while.
The premise is simple. Block distracting websites, apps, social media platforms, or whatever grabs your attention for as much time as you like.
Here’s how Freedom works:
- Select the device you’re using.
- Set your work schedule.
- Block a list of apps and websites you don’t want to visit.
You can synchronize your block list across all your devices and editing your block list in your non-work hours if very easy.
According to Freedom, multitasking is 40% less productive than focused work. If you struggle with distractions while working on your phone or computer, this is an effective solution.
Price: $6.99 per month or $24.99 per year.
Availability: IOS, Android, and Desktop.
Freedom is great for: People who want to block the same apps and websites on all their devices to focus on work.
Learn more about Freedom on their website!
The Impact of Smartphone Addiction + Some Final Thoughts
While using self control apps to forceably lock a phone might seem extreme to some, I think it is important that people acknowledge that spending too much time on their phone can have consequences.
Smartphone addiction is a legitimate concern that can cause problems like:
- Massive amounts of lost revenue for businesses and entrepreneurs. This study found that interruptions contribute to 28 billion lost work hours every year in the United States…that’s a lot of lost efficiency!
- Increased mental health risks such as depression or suicidal tendencies.
- Thinking you are smarter than you actually are…how many times have you turned to Google or some other app on your phone rather than taking a minute to think?
Now, I never want to be the guy who wears a tinfoil hat, and This Online World is all about how we can effectively use technology to make and save more money.
However, I think it is important that people remain aware as to just how much they rely on technology or the impact technological adoption has on their life…especially if technological addiction can reduce efficiency, income, etc.
If I look back on my own smartphone use, I probably lost hundreds of dollars on wasted time.
Additionally, I had countless interruptions distract me from meaningful moments with friends or family that I can’t get back.
I’m not saying every single waking moment has to be 100% efficient, but I think there is value in increasing efficiency in our work, side hustles, or even how much we enjoy an activity that doesn’t involve our phone.
I know this was a bit of a different post than what I normally write, but I am excited to try more self control apps and use less of my phone. I figure that other people could benefit from trying out some of these apps as well 🙂
To end this post on self control apps and productivity, I’ll once again turn to the boss man himself for a note on work ethic:
Let’s all have an efficient, healthy, and happy year where we crush our goals!
Catch you guys in the next post.
Tom is a full-time blogger and freelance writer with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and the gig economy. His work has appeared on dozens of personal finance websites like Money Crashers, The College Investor, Investor Junkie, and more. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
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