Now that many people are getting weekly phone updates on how much time is spent on-screen, I am sure some are wondering on how to cut down on screen time. Personally I only average 1-1.5 hour a day – 3 times less than others! – and it is all thanks to conscious decisions I’ve made that helped me move away from my phone. So, today I would like to share my best tips with you.
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8 ways to cut down screen time
There are many ways to reduce your screen time. Most phones now allow you to put in time limits for certain apps and schedule downtime. However, this may not be enough. Truly spending time away from your phone takes a change in lifestyle, which is why I’ve put together the following tips.
1. Put down your phone
The first measure I took was always placing my phone screen-down on the table. I get easily distracted by screens and incoming notifications, so I found that having my phone screen in sight was not a good look for me. I became unfocused and wouldn’t give my full attention to the people I was actually trying to spend time with. With my phone screen facing down, I don’t have this issue. I only check my phone when I want to.
2. Reflect on phone usage
Another important step in cutting down on screen time is to think about what you want from this. Why is it that you want to spend less time on your phone? What do you actually want to use your phone for? And, more importantly, what do you not want to be using your phone for?
For example, I realised I was spending a lot of time mindlessly scrolling through Twitter and Facebook multiple times a day, even though I care very little about these platforms. It only made me more aware of how bored I was and how much time I was wasting. So, I decided to delete the apps and only check these platforms on my computer every once in a while.
3. Set goals
The next step is to set goals, meaning you think about what you do want to be spending your time on. Instead of checking Facebook 15 times a day, what could you be doing with that time? What do you want to be doing? Personally, I would much rather read, for example.
4. Fill your time
If you have thought about when and why you use your phone, you can also think of alternative ways to use your time. In my case, I was mostly wasting my time on social media platforms while I had to wait for appointments. In those few minutes where you have nothing to do, you might as well check your phone, right?
These were the moments where I was getting really bored and frustrated with myself, because I did not want to be spending that time on my phone. So instead, I started bringing books with me that were easy to read. Or I would make sure I had a comic or e-book on my phone (which is still using your phone, yes, but at least it’s not as mind-numbing as staring at the exact same tweets on Twitter you checked literally 2 minutes ago).
So for this step, my advice is to think ahead and prepare for the day: are there any gaps where you are likely to take out your phone? Bring something else to do. Perhaps a complicated sudoku!
5. Delete apps
Now it’s time to delete apps. I keep as little apps on my phone as possible, and it saves me so much screen time, battery, and data. For me, being able to communicate with others, receive information, and check email are the most important things I want to do with my phone.
So what kind of apps have I deleted? Pretty much all social media apps. I don’t have Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram on my phone. The latter two I stopped using altogether. I also got rid of all the games I had.
I do still have photography apps, entertainment services (podcasts, Spotify), communicative apps (email, Whatsapp), information services (Wikipedia, dictionaries) and apps that help me stay organised (banking, Google Drive, Wunderlist, etc.).
Of course this step will look different for you as you will have different wishes and needs, but I do want to urge you to ask yourself: which of these do I need to use my phone for, and which of these could I take care of with a different device? Shopping, for example, is something I definitely do not need to do on my phone. If I want to browse online shops, I would rather do that at home on my computer.
6. Plan screen time
Another good way of dealing with this challenge is by planning out your screen time. If you get lots of emails or messages from friends, you might want to set a certain time during the day when you answer all of these. Often what happens with incoming notifications is that we click them, get distracted, and then spend thirty more minutes on our phones – even though we intended to just check that one notification. So, I advise building up a standard routine with your phone: only check and answer text messages after work, for example.
7. Use flight mode
If you have planned out when to use your phone, you can use flight (or Do Not Disturb) mode to make sure you really don’t get distracted in the meantime. I often did this during work or when I was doing something completely different, like reading or watching TV. Flight mode can give you great peace and quiet, and increase your productivity!
8. Go unplugged
My last tip is to go unplugged for short periods of time. I have often accidentally stepped out of the house without my phone, and it was really no issue at all. Especially places within short distances, like the park or supermarket, I can easily go to without a phone. At home I sometimes leave my phone in another room on purpose, so I can focus on other things instead.
Benefits of less screen time
I have found many benefits of cutting down on screen time: most of all that my mind is a lot clearer, and I am able to do things with a purpose now. I am better aware of how I spend my time and how I want to spend my time. I also feel more present as I am no longer occupied with ten things at the same time.
Hopefully this post has been helpful for you and you found what you were looking for. I would love to see you share your tips on how to cut down on screen time. All advice is welcome!