How Using A Self-Control App Can Help You Change

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated July 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Have you been experiencing constant distractions that are keeping you from reaching your goals? If so, you’re not alone. Technology can make our work much easier, but it can also come with a number of intrusive distractions, including social media apps, messaging apps, and access to an endless number of YouTube videos. 

Despite these distractions, technology has also led to the creation of apps that help people build more self-control. Below, we’ll explore some apps that help people develop more self-control and increase their productivity.

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It isn't always easy to navigate the obstacles of daily life

Apps to build more self-control

1. StayFocusd

Many people lack self-control when it comes to using the internet. When they should be working on projects for work or school, they end up going down a rabbit hole on the internet. What started as just a few minutes looking at their Facebook feed can become an hour of wasted time. This may not seem like a big deal 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. StayFocusd 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 use other sites that are not adding to the productivity of your day, but once you have exceeded your time limit, all of the sites that you set up on your Blacklist are blocked.

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2. 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 RescueTime may be what you need. This app allows you to block sites, similarly to how the StayFocused app operates, but it also constantly runs 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 your results. The app gives you a productivity rating on your overall achievements for the week.

3. Flipd

If you find yourself using your smartphone more than you’d like to, the Flipd app may be useful for you. The app allows you to lock your screen for a set period. If you're supposed to be working on a big project this afternoon and you find that you're playing around on your phone, you can lock your device for a set amount of time. 

For example, you can set a timer for 30 minutes for a task you want to complete. You will be locked out of your phone during this time to limit distractions. However, there is a 60-second emergency unlock button per locked session in case you need to use your phone. You can also receive calls if needed, but only from three contacts you’ve selected when setting up the app. 

4. Cold Turkey

If you have serious self-control concerns, then Cold Turkey may be the most effective app for you. Like some of the other self-control apps mentioned above, Cold Turkey can help you block a specific website or app, 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 may be a useful app to use if you find that you have a certain time of day when you have difficulty with self-control online. This could involve staying up too late accessing social media or going on a middle-of-the-night spending spree on Amazon. You can create a schedule and choose a time when you can't access your device at all.

It isn't always easy to navigate the obstacles of daily life

Regaining control with BetterHelp

In addition to using the apps above, you might build more self-control by talking to a licensed therapist. You can search for a local therapist or try online therapy, which numerous studies have demonstrated to be just as effective as in-office therapy. Online therapy is a widely accepted modality for treating mental health challenges related to impulse or emotion control. 

As mentioned above, if you are experiencing frustration or anxiety because of a lack of self-control, online counseling may help. BetterHelp has a network of more than 25,000 licensed therapists who can provide guidance to those experiencing difficulty with self-control. With BetterHelp, you can connect with a therapist via phone, videoconferencing, or in-app messaging at a time that works for your schedule.

Counselor reviews

“I am so thankful for Ryan. I am a very quiet person, but I am very comfortable being open and honest with Ryan. He listens and validates. He is kind and honest. He reminds me that I can’t control others and their actions, but I do have control over my own actions. He helps me problem solve and offers suggestions regarding communication, breathing & relaxation techniques, and encourages me to take care of myself. I’m so appreciative of his perspective and the perspective I have gained through talking with him.” 

“Since working with Allyson, I have felt that I've grown as a person and can start taking control of my life again. This was the best decision I have made and I am happy that I was matched with someone who has no judgement and is there for me.” 


If you’re experiencing difficulty with self-control, you don’t have to manage it on your own. You might make more progress if you use a self-control app or if you contact a licensed online counselor to help you take control of your life. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a licensed therapist with experience helping people develop more self-control. Take the first step to greater self-control and productivity and contact BetterHelp today.
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