*This is a long one, so maybe make yourself a cuppa before you sit down to read this one!*
This blog post all started after a series of videos began appearing in my YouTube suggested videos feed. Whether it was by coincidence, or by design of the YouTube algorithm, who knows, but what I do know is it struck a chord with me and ever since I’ve cut down on my phone usage by at least 50%.
The first video was a 30 min documentary-style video from Max Joseph (of Catfish fame) on bookstores and reading called: BOOKSTORES: How to Read More Books in the Golden Age of Content, which you should have already watched if you read my last blog post, but if not, well then make yourself a cuppa and sit back and watch. It’s extremely interesting and talks about how if we set aside a mere 30 minutes everyday we could potentially read 6 books a year. So, imagine if you spent that last 30 minutes of scrolling through Instagram before bed–you could have been reading a book instead! If you’re an avid bookworm, this goes hand-in-hand with this blog post so I definitely recommend watching it.
The second video was by YouTuber WheezyWaiter: 17 Ways to Stop Wasting Time on the Internet really had some fascinating tips, and he also uploaded a video where he and his wife did a 30 Day No Social Media Challenge which he called We Quit the Internet for a Month. Here’s What Happened, which was very interesting too and I really started to get freaked about how much time I was spending on my phone after this one, which led me to downloading an app to calculate how much time I was spending on my phone everyday (4+ hours FYI).
So, taking those videos into account, I set myself a challenge and downloaded an app called YourHour to help me see how much time I was spending on my phone, and I feel after a week of cutting down my time spent on my phone, confident and qualified enough to help you also cut down on your own screen time.
Do what I did: find an app that calculates how much time you spend on your phone everyday. I looked for a few but found the app YourHour to be the best. I have an Android phone, so I am not sure if it’s available for any iOS users, but I think there is an app on the App Store that iPhone users can use.
I found I was spending on average 3-4 hours on my phone everyday, and the app really helped me stay on track, as it has a timer on it to tell you how long you spend in each app that appears in the corner of your screen, and I found once I had that open, I was less likely to spend 10 minutes aimlessly scrolling, and only opening an app if and when I needed to use it, for the time I needed to use it, then closing it immediately after I was done. I’ll tell you my new average screen time at the end of all these tips.
Turn Off ALL* Notifications!
The main purpose of this is to remove distraction. I found that once notifications were turned off I was less likely to want to pick up my phone and go seeing if I had any new notifications. Now, I set aside 2-3 checks per day to allow myself to pop into my favourite apps and check my notifications. These checks are usually first thing in the morning, and last thing at night, and if I’m feeling super curious I’ll probably check in around lunch time as well. Believe me, after a day or 2 you’ll benefit from this, because the less you check your phone, that means the more notifications you’ll have when you do open the app, which I love seeing, especially when I open Instagram!
*This is, of course, with the exception of apps like WhatsApp, Messenger and if you’re feeling generous SnapChat, where you may need these apps to communicate/contact people in your day-to-day.
Disable/Delete Unnecessary Apps
I no longer have the Facebook app on my phone. Plain and simple. It’s a default app on Android systems, so I currently have it disabled. If I need to access Facebook, I have to go into a web browser like Chrome and physically log in to my Facebook in order to check notifications. What this did, was remove unnecessary scrolling mindlessly through the app, laughing at cat videos and commenting on pure garbage. Also, if you’re depending on Facebook to tell you when it’s someones birthday, are they really your friend? If Facebook isn’t your poison, the same can be done with said app, or if you can’t bring yourself to delete it off your phone, re-read the previous tip.
PS. Give yourself some bonus points if you’re just not on Facebook full-stop. Well done! *insert clapping hands emoji here*
Put Your Phone to Bed
Now, with this one, I don’t mean bring your phone to bed with you. What I mean is treat it as if it were your child, because come on, we all know our phones are our children and we’d be lost without them. Give your child–oops, I mean: your phone– a designated bed time. Me, I usually go to bed around midnight, so I usually stop trying to use my phone around 10:30-11:00 pm. Some people may need extra help with this one like try leaving your phone in a different room, or somewhere you don’t frequent in the house so you don’t find yourself automatically going towards it. Buy an alarm clock–we simply shouldn’t be using our phones as alarm clocks. If it’s an emergency, they’ll call you. Give yourself permission to answer phone calls (but nobody should be realistically making phone calls that late at night unless its an emergency), but make sure you put the phone back in it’s new designated bed.
A bonus benefit of doing this is that you’ve now become percentage of people who don’t see their phones last thing at night before they go to bed, and first thing in the morning when they wake up.
Read A Book for Crying Out Loud!
I’m throwing this all back to that first video I mentioned by Max Joseph. Now that you’ve cut down all that screen time, now’s your opportunity to read more! I am personally using it to read more, especially if I’m on my lunch break in work, I try and read my book instead of scrolling aimlessly through Instagram or Facebook. Same goes with the evenings, once I’ve put my phone to bed, I read my book for an hour or so before I go to sleep. It’s a lot more relaxing than having a screen glaring in your face.
After all those helpful tips are in play, you should see a dramatic drop in your screen time once you are willing to do it. Social Media is like a drug and quitting can be (what I can only imagine) like trying to quit smoking: some can do it cold turkey, some need to ween them off slowly but surely. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but if I can do it, anyone can. I started this challenge a week and a half ago, and since then I’ve had a wedding and I bought a new phone, so if those aren’t incentives to use your phone more, I give up…
There you have it: those are my tips on how to cut down your screen time. Remember I said I was spending an average of 3-4 hours per day on my phone? My new average is 1-1.5 hours per day! #winning