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Experiment 28

Delay the urge to search

From batch 1 of our weekly series of Lab Tests

Each week we release two new experiments from the Digital Habit Lab, launching on Kickstarter later this year.

Read Lab Test 1 →
See all Lab Tests →

What does it involve?

Keep a notebook or piece of paper with you throughout the day and whenever something comes to mind that you spontaneously want to search then write it down. Choose a time in the day where you then go back through your notes and do all of your searching at once.

Why do it?

  • Stay focused on what you are doing—By writing the search term down it allows you to stop worrying about forgetting it and let's you carry on with whatever you were doing.
  • Task batching—Instead of jumping in and out of your browser whenerver you think of something to search, do all of it together in one block to be more efficient
  • Delayed gratification—We are so used to being able to do things at the exact moment that we think of them. By occasionally making ourselves wait a bit we can help build our muscle of delayed gratification.
  • Don't waste your time—By the time you come back to do the searches later, you may realise that you don't really care about it and decide not to bother. This could end up saving you a lot of time!


  • Observe what happens in the moment directly after you write down something in your notebook. Can you relax? Is it hard to let the thought go?
  • Experiment with different times of day that you do your group searches and see what impact this has.