Two weeks ago, I lost an entire half-day to AdVenture Capitalist, an insanely addicting online/mobile capitalism simulator.

And I'm not talking about a morning or afternoon during business hours. No. Twelve freakin' hours.

I learned about this colossal time suck from a colleague, who was compulsively playing it during a work film session.

At the time, I laughed, naive to the lure of my growing Cash on Hand and the production of my humble oil companies, lemonade stands and movie studios.

Then I downloaded the damned thing. And got three of my friends to start playing.

I now totally get why people are addicted to social media sites like Facebook, or to compulsively checking their phones for updates.

Those lures were easier for me to fight. After my mom died, I went completely offline for awhile to heal. I repeated the process when my dad died 18 months later.

These traumatic events shocked me into clarity: I instantly recognized the implications of wasted time, how precious and fleeting each day really is, and how little interest I actually held in others' status updates.

Accordingly, over the past year, my recommendation to others fighting tech addiction was mostly of the cold-turkey variety.

AdVenture Capitalist has made me change my tune on this.

Sure, cold turkey works when you have a sudden, severe life event like I did.

But for the rest of us, when things are going just fine to great, we've gotta recognize what's happening, choose how we're going to react, and follow through.

Addiction and Productivity

[contextly_auto_sidebar id="kkeNkKXU1nerlXDpDHa82BniJyONH75B"]It's human nature for us to want to feel better, to engage the chemical releases in our brains that signal pleasure.

Healthy ways to feel better include doing fulfilling activities, exercising, spending time with friends, and playing.

Unhealthy ways include abusing drugs or alcohol, or getting thrills from risky behavior.

Know what other things trigger these same pleasure centers in the brain?

New, unpredictable notifications. You know, like text messages, Facebook newsfeed refreshes, and Twitter feeds. We don't know what or when is coming, and we anticipate it.

That shit is addicting.

And when you combine all the possible ways you can get unpredictable notifications in a day, tech addiction becomes Public Enemy #1 for productivity.

3 Steps to Regain Control

  1. Disable audible notifications. Ideally, also disable visual notifications, at least for part of the day. The goal here is to minimize interruptions, which distract you and disrupt your concentration.
  2. Set boundaries. Perhaps you can't check Facebook until after 2 p.m., or during your lunch hour, or after dinner. My AdVenture Capitalist blocks are while I'm waiting in any line (including on hold) or while I'm waiting for food to cook.
  3. Recognize your triggers and recreate habits. My dad smoked cigarettes for awhile, and he said the hardest thing about quitting was recreating his daily routines, especially in the morning and around mealtimes.
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