Limit your screen time
Screens are addictive. We all know it – they chip away at our focus, eat up our time and put a strain on our mental health. However, reaching for our phones remains second nature whether to fill in 5 minutes at the bus stop or to divert attention from an awkward silence. Yet, with exams looming somewhere on the horizon, I’ve decided this is the moment I ought to take control of my screen time. So, if you too find yourself spending one too many hours scrolling, join me in taking the following steps to kick the habit!
Track your time
Addressing the problem always starts with facing the problem, no matter how unsavoury this may be… Usually under the health settings in your phone, you will find – broken down app-by-app – exactly how much time you have been spending on your phone.
Now your mind is probably running through the mental maths and panicking slightly as you realise just how much your phone controls your time. But breathe – this is why we’re implementing change!
Set yourself goals
Now you have the data, take some time to set some realistic goals. Maybe an hour of your time was spent on FaceTime and that seems reasonable to you, but maybe two hours was drained on TikTok which seems, well less reasonable… Set a goal for the overall time you want to be spending on your phone as well as how you want to be spending it.
Use App Limits
The luxury of screen time data is that it lets you know exactly which apps are the culprits of the disappearance of your time. Now you have your goals, use the settings on your phone to set limits on your apps.
Limits are always easily lifted and often this involves nothing but pressing a “Remind me in 15 minutes” button, however, I urge you to keep in mind why you set the limits. If they truly seem unrealistic, maybe adjust them to find a middle ground. Nevertheless, whether you extend your time or not, don’t do it mindlessly – take a moment first to be taken back to reality and realise how much time that means you have spent on that app.
Turn off notifications
When our day is peppered with the sound of our phone vibrating, it becomes fragmented. Whether you reply or just glance over to see what’s unfolding on your phone, you are now no longer focused on the task at hand. Turn off your notifications and take charge of when you are reachable. Perhaps, resolve to check your phone for 5 minutes at every hour.
Challenge yourself with some deliberate and specific rules. For example, a couple of years ago I set a rule that I wouldn’t open the tabloids/news pages on Snapchat – I realised it was a part of social media that brought me more frustration than joy and resolved to simply cut it out. I haven’t looked back since. Could you think of a similar rule that would be a step in the right direction for you? Perhaps you could ban the Instagram explore page or even delete one of your social media apps…
Create physical distance
Phones have become an extension of ourselves. Whether or not we necessarily believe we need to be using them, they seem to stay within a one metre radius of ourselves no matter where we are! I know I can certainly reach mine now! Can you?
Start being mindful of what your phone really is, why and when you might need to be using it. And, hence if you’re going downstairs to make a coffee maybe leave it upstairs, or if you’re going upstairs to chat to a flatmate maybe leave it downstairs!
Be more mindful
Before you unlock your phone ask yourself: “what am I going to do on my phone?” and insist that you answer it before you allow yourself to do it. Maybe the answer is “Scroll TikTok” and if that is the case, so be it – enjoy your scrolling! However, far too often we pick up our devices to jot down a note or answer a text and it ends in scrolling TikTok and in these cases answering the simple question of “what am I going to do?” will save you a whole lot of time.
Remember why you use your phone
Phones are incredible devices. But why do you use yours? Is it mainly for entertainment, connection, information or escaping boredom?
Think about the root of your usage and if perhaps you could satisfy this need with a more fulfilling counterpart.
I use my phone for a sense of connection. However, I’m well aware that compared to seeing my friends in real life, the connection I feel from using my phone is shallow and unfulfilling. Whilst I want to reduce screen time, I don’t want to reduce my connectivity. Therefore as a solution, I’m going to swap strings of voice notes for more frequently scheduled coffees and dinners with my friends instead. What could you bring into your life that will fulfil the root cause of your screen time?