Wish you wasted less time online, but don’t want to simply block distractions? HabitLab, an open source project, might be able to help.

This Chrome extension and Android app asks which sites you’d like to spend less time using, then randomly employs a variety of different “nudges” to help you do that. For example, on Reddit HabitLab might show a timer of how long you’ve been scrolling. Visit YouTube and the app might confirm that you really want to watch a 15 minute video before letting you watch. Or a visit to Facebook might begin with a conformation that visiting Facebook is really what you want to do right now:

The idea is for you to slowly become aware of your habitual browsing and slowly, over time, decrease the amount of time you waste. You can customize which nudges are employed on particular sites over time, and even review your progress as time goes on.

A system like this will only be helpful if you sincerely want to change your habits, of course, but it’s worth a shot if freeing up time is something you care about. Note that using this tool means sharing some privatized information with researchers at Stanford.

Justin Pot Justin Pot
Justin Pot has been writing about technology for over a decade, with work appearing in Digital Trends, The Next Web, Lifehacker, MakeUseOf, and the Zapier Blog. He also runs the Hillsboro Signal, a volunteer-driven local news outlet he founded.
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