Think about the times you pull out a smartphone to turn on the lights. You then catch yourself scrolling through social media as our goldfish like attention span drifts us off into another task. Think about attempting to decrease screen time.
Are you conscious of the time you spend in front of a screen? Consciously or sub-consciously missing the world around you, gazing into your smartphone.
If so, you’re not alone. With the bulk of each working day often spent in front of a computer monitor, and the average American spending a further 11 hours consuming media each day, some people struggle to get much time at all away from laptops, tablets, and smartphones. And it’s the phone that’s our primary focus today…
With endless possibilities in your pocket, it's a thoughtless reflex to grab your phone and kill a minute or two to kill. Or, killing awkward moments is what it's best known for at times.
Once you've got a phone in hand, scrolling ceaselessly through social media is for many the default option.
Though, is that how you want to use free time?
Today, we'll briefly highlight 5 actionable ways to decrease phone screen time and improve your quality of life doing so.
How To Use Your Smart Phone Less Often
- Start By Monitoring Usage Then Set Time Limits
- Remove Notifications Completely
- Reassess Your Use of Social Media
- Leave Work At Work Not On Your Phone
- Establish Screen-Free Zones
1) Start By Monitoring Usage Then Set Time Limits
If you have an idea, you’re spending too much time on your cell phone, then you probably are.
Still, it pays to remove the guesswork and to start dealing with data. Luckily, that’s easy to accomplish.
If you’re an iPhone user with iOS 12 or later, turn on Screen Time in Settings.
For Android users, the Digital Wellbeing app on Google Play Store offers broadly similar screen time monitoring.
Once you’ve established a baseline for how much you spend with your phone daily, you can determine where, exactly, you’re spending that time. If the vast bulk of your online presence is frittered away down a rabbit hole of Facebook comments, or you're slowly hitting the Gram without even thinking about it, try putting some app time limits in place.
2) Remove Notifications
By definition, notifications are distracting. Their very purpose is to stop you in your tracks and divert your attention to that email, Facebook message or comment.
Don't let your notifications conquer you!
Try disabling notifications on your home screen. Not only will you end up with a cleaner look, but you're also not going to miss out on anything.
Beyond this, perhaps the core benefit of removing notifications is your improved ability to focus on the task at hand. After being interrupted, it can take almost 25 minutes to get back on track.
Check what you want to check manually rather than having the constant specter of notifications dragging you away from what you were doing. Use technology rather than allowing it to drive you.
3) Reassess Your Use of Social Media On The Phone
When we talk about spending too much time in front of a smartphone screen, we're often talking about social media. This is the one form of online activity that draws people in more than any other.
We’re absolutely not suggesting you should stop using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or any other of your preferred social media platforms.
What we are suggesting is that you re-examine the way you use social media.
If your Screen Time data shows you're squandering hours on Messenger, you could better spend in other ways, delete the app from your phone. You'll still have access to your laptop or tablet, but you remove one huge time-suck with the press of your finger. Imagine what you can do with those 7 hours a week.
Remember, all we’re talking about here is making sensible cuts to areas of social media that eat up too much of your time. You don’t need to start shutting down accounts or making radical changes. These sensible tweaks alone should free up time without diminishing your social media experience.
4) Leave Work At Work
If at all possible, try to leave work off your phone.
Try not to check any work email or communication channels while you’re at home. If you must engage, do so quickly and with purpose but try not to allow yourself to be available around the clock.
We’re fully aware that this is not always practical so don’t be too hard on yourself if you need to get something done.
5) Establish Screen-Free Zones
Do you have a phone-free policy in the dining room?
How about when you eat on your own? Do you still leave your phone in your pocket or are you checking out a quick YouTube vid as you eat alone?
Depending on the layout of your home consider establishing areas where using the phone is discouraged or outright banned. If you’ve got teens at home, this can be a powerful way of helping them to cut back on screen time, too.
Well, we deliberately kept this short today. After all, we don’t want an article on reducing screen time to keep you locked in front of a display for too long!
These handy hints are really just the start of a digital detox. Once you start monitoring your screen time, you’ll uncover new ways to cut consumption without reducing your enjoyment of tech.
If you’re interested in further reading on recalibrating your use of digital devices, we’d strongly recommend Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism. Whether or not you accept the author’s challenge to stop all non-essential digital life for a period of one month, you’ll find some great insight into how you could be misusing technology.
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