How Using A Self-Control App Can Help You Change

Updated February 20, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

There are not many things that separate us from animals. However, one thing that does is our ability to use self-control. As humans, we can control our thoughts, emotions, and behavior. We may have natural tendencies just like animals, but we can overcome our instinct because of self-control. However, many people suffer from a lack of self-control. Even though we have the ability, we struggle to use it. Therefore, technology has stepped in to save the day. You can choose a self-control app to help you gain control.


The Importance Of Self-Control

Self-control and self-discipline are so crucial because they allow us to accomplish the things that we want in life. We all have emotions that try to run our lives. But, if you allow your emotions to control you, your life will end up a mess. Our feelings are not always true to the situation. If we always make our decisions in light of how we feel, we will not be able to accomplish near what we can otherwise.

Coach Wooden is known for his Pyramid of Success. It has four blocks that include self-control, alertness, initiative, and intentness. He stresses the importance of self-control by saying, "practice self-discipline and keep emotions under control. Good judgment and common sense are essential."

You probably have witnessed someone acting with a lack of self-control before, and, if you are honest, you can probably think of at least a time or two when you have done the same. When we don't exercise self-control, we are irrational, unproductive, and lazy. While it may be difficult to use self-control, it is to our advantage to do so.

How A Self-Control App Can Help

While no app can force you to behave in one way or another, you can use a self-control app to assist you in the process. The key to using a self-control app to regain self-control is to determine what your problem is. Then you can find an app that addresses it. There are many areas that we can lack self-control. It could be in the words that you say, the behaviors that you do, or the behaviors that you don't do. Many people lack self-control when it comes to technology and the use of it. Therefore, many of these apps focus on creating self-control in this area.

Here are some popular self-control apps and how they can help.

  1. StayFocused

Many people lack self-control when it comes to using the internet. While they should be working on projects for work or school, they end up falling down the rabbit hole of the internet. What started as just a few minutes looking at their Facebook account becomes an hour of wasted time. This may not seem like a big idea if it happens on occasion, but for a lot of people, it's an everyday problem.

This can lead to missed deadlines, and a lot of extra stress when trying to get your work done. Stay Focused is a Chrome extension that allows you to set a total time that you are allowed on a site for the day. For example, you can allow yourself to have half an hour each day for whatever you want. That means you can browse through your social media accounts, check sports scores or access other sites that are not adding to the productivity of your day. However, once you have exceeded your half hour all of the sites that you set up on your Blacklist are blocked.

This extension even comes with a "nuclear option" if you struggle with self-control. This option blocks your list and does not allow you to deactivate it. With the regular option, if you want to access a blocked site, you have to jump through hoops to do it. The process was designed to be difficult. Therefore, you are likely to give up by realizing that you are wasting time if you don't need to be on that site.


  1. RescueTime

If you're looking for a self-control app that will give you an overall picture of where you are wasting time online, then rescue time is what you need. This app allows you to block sites like the StayFocused app. But, it is also constantly running on your computer tracking what you are doing.

This means that you're able to see a detailed analysis of how you spend your time online. You may think that five minutes here, and there isn't a big deal, but when you look at your report, you may see that it's a good chunk of time that you are wasting on something that is not producing results in your life. You even receive a once-a-week email showing you your results. The App gives you a productivity rating on your overall achievements for the week.

  1. Stay On Task

If you struggle with staying on task but don't have one set thing that you struggle with the Stay on Task app might be the right one for you. This app will randomly ask you throughout the day if you are still on task. This is a great reminder because you don't know when the message will come through. It could be any time throughout the day. If it catches you in a moment when you're wasting time you can get back on task.

  1. Flip

If you struggle with using your smartphone too much, the Flip app is for you. However, you need to be serious when you decide to use it because once you use it, you cannot turn it off. Even if you restart your phone, the app will continue running. The app allows you to lock your screen for a set period. So, if you're supposed to be working on a big project this afternoon, and you find instead that you're playing around on your phone, you can lock your device for a set amount of time. It will not unlock no matter what you do. This is a good way to force yourself to stay on task by removing the temptation.

  1. Self-Awareness Log

The Self-Awareness Log app allows you to gain more control of your emotions. It helps you see how you process situations and events in your life. While this is not directly a self-control app, it's going to help you learn better self-control and make you more aware. When you access the app, you will be asked a series of questions that help you describe the situation that you have been in. Then it helps you process your response and emotions to the situation. It gives you an opportunity to reflect and make observations and look at ways that you could have responded differently. The more aware you are of yourself in your reactions, the more self-control you will be able to have.


  1. Cold Turkey

If you have real self-control issues, then Cold Turkey can help. Cold Turkey can help you block a specific website or app just like many of the other self-control apps discussed here. But, it takes it a step further by allowing you to set periods of time when you are unable to access your computer or device. This is a good app to use if you find that you have a certain time of day when you struggle with self-control online. This could be staying up too late accessing social media, making poor choices when everyone else is in bed, or going on a middle-of-the-night spending spree on Amazon. You can create a schedule of when you can't access your device at all.

Overcoming Addiction

Addiction to devices on the Internet is real. While the impact of it may not be the same as drug addiction or alcohol addiction, it can still have damaging results. People that are addicted to their devices are wasting time at work, wasting time that they could be spending with their family, and wasting time that they could be active doing other things.

If you are used to being on your phone or device all throughout the day, and you feel the need to check it every time you hear it making noise, then using one of these apps is a good idea. Life is so much bigger than what the internet can offer. Believe it or not, you can go an entire day without having a smartphone. We used to do it every single day before all these devices came about.


If you are suffering, or if your family is suffering, because you have a lack of self-control it needs to be addressed. You can try using these apps, but if you have a serious problem, and you know who you are, talk to a professional. The licensed therapist at BetterHelp can help you make the progress that you need to take back control of yourself and your life. You do have the ability to control your actions and decisions. However, if you are used to following your impulse and doing what you want, it can take practice to exercise self-control in this area again. Contact a professional to guide you through the steps and help you make progress in this area of your life.

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