Less Is More: How To Cut Your Screen Time In Half
My daily screen time average is almost five hours a day.
Some may look at that number and be shocked. Others may think that’s nothing compared to their’s. Because let’s face it, phones are necessary. They have tools to better our businesses, work lives, creative passions and so much more. Yet many of us are miserable because of our them.
They’re tools, and good ones at that. Still we tend to rely on our cell phones more than we probably should. When I say there are ways for us to use our phones “less” I don’t mean there’s a magic time limit that applies to everyone. Much of my work at the nonprofit I work for involves me being on my phone to plan social media programming, take photos, and check emails. As an avid phone-user, I don’t believe people should be guilted for being on their devices for X amount of time. What really needs to decrease is the sense of dependency on one electronic object. Then the decreased amount of screen time will follow.
Looking to decrease your screen time and become independent of the computer in your pocket? Here are a few pointers to get you started:
Turn off your notifications. Seriously.
This little change has made the biggest difference in my screen time and phone dependency. Whenever an instagram or email notification showed up on my phone I would almost have a reflex of picking it up. I started with turning off my Instagram, Poshmark, and email notifications. Now, I even forget if I posted something recently on my Instagram and there are fewer and fewer moments where I find myself scrolling for no reason.
Spring clean your following list.
Basically I Marie Kondo-ed the people, models, businesses, influencers, and cat accounts that I followed on social media. This helped me use my phone less and it honestly made me a lot happier. So much of my feed was a highlight reel, and that content that didn’t add anything to my life. My feed was filled with more celebrities than it was with people I actually knew and I craved days where I could post about things that were happening in real time, not just things that looked pretty. After I cleaned up my following list, my social media screen time became way more intentional. I stopped posting just to post, instead I started posting when there was something actually important to say.
Stop sleeping with your phone.
Y'all, I used to sleep with my phone every night. I would fall asleep by scrolling until I couldn’t stay awake and the quality of my sleep was not good.
Back in college I actually did an experiment on myself for a Behavior Modification class to try to get myself to break this habit. For every few nights I was successful, I’d set a dollar aside. Once my experiment was over I had a small fortune to treat myself with. This experiment didn’t help me long term but I did have some of the best sleep of my life during it. I missed that feeling. So recently, I got myself a cheap alarm clock, and I now let my phone charge in the bathroom when I go to bed. Now I’m finally able to catch up on my reading, journalling and hobbies. My sleep is better and I wake up far more energized.
Say it with me: less is more.
Apps are great. They make our lives easier, more efficient and more streamlined, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But a lot of apps we use can be accessed from a desktop. Yes it’s great that we can access Google Drive and Dropbox from our phones these days, but we can still do that from our laptop too. It’s so much better to set aside intentional time for our daily tasks. Take a good look at the Apps you have on your phone and ask yourself “Do I really need these?” and if you do, can they be used on your desktop?
Leave it in the other room.
Many of us have a habit of picking up our phone whenever we move from one room to the other. Our phone does not always need to be following us. That’s it, that’s the tip.
My phone is not a source of sadness. It helps me do my job, connect with my friends, and generally be a person in 2019. It also wastes my time. I deserve to give my time back to myself. We all do.
Michaela Love works with Rethreaded Inc and is passionate about mental health. On a normal day you can find her watching The Office for the 47th time or rating a recently watched movie on the Letterboxd app.