“Oh, this could be fun.” Isn’t that how so many bad ideas start out? About a month ago I did the update on my iPhone and discovered the new Screen Time tracker. I turned the feature on and forgot about it. A week later, a notification popped up on my phone informing me that my Screen Time summary was available. Eight hours on my phone. I was totally floored, embarrassed, and confused. It literally made me sick to my stomach. I was spending a third of my day glued to my phone! Holy hell you guys! How am I spending my life?
The report breaks down to show you how the time is used, which made me feel slightly better…for a second. I spent some time in my e-mail so OK, that counts as work. An hour on Netflix by the kiddo (aka: sanity saving for both of us), so I’ll allow it. But, I spent three hours on Facebook. Doing what? It doesn’t improve my life, it doesn’t make me happy, and, in fact, I’d argue that Facebook makes me feel worse about my normally good life. It’s three hours I’m just tossing out the window like it doesn’t matter, and it actually does matter to me…big time.
This is different than checking your Instagram at the park to decompress for a while; this is a full-on addiction to picking up my phone every five minutes all day every day. I will be missing out, and I already could feel it, but my phone is showing me numbers I can’t argue with or talk myself out of. My phone is working against me, and I’m allowing it to steal my time. This is a problem, and it needs to end.
So, I’m setting some serious limits for myself. A great life is happening right in front of me, and I’m taking it for granted.
Here are the steps I plan to take to cut down on my screen time:
I’m changing my morning routine
The first thing I do, probably before my eyes are even fully open, is check my phone. My main culprit Facebook, followed by Instagram and my e-mail, are all checked for updates before I even get up to pee (this is saying a lot for a pregnant lady!). My alarm clock is a tiny human, so I don’t need the phone next to the bed, which will decrease the temptation to scroll first thing.
I’m going to think before I pick up
Being more mindful about how and why I’m using my phone will help to cut down the time. Am I bored? I know that’s a big one for me. I pick up my phone when I’m waiting in line at Starbucks or watching another episode of Super Why. Am I stressed? Another contributing factor to the problem, for sure. Facebook is quick relief from a toddler tantrum or sitting in traffic. Understanding my triggers will help avoid repeating the same behaviors over and over.
I’m turning off my notifications
A little chime telling me that someone liked a photo can lead me down a rabbit hole of scrolling. When I’m home with the family playing or cooking dinner, I’m turning off my notifications, so I’m less likely to mindlessly pick up my phone.
I’m setting up phone-free times of the day
I’ll start with my daughter’s bedtime as the first “no phones allowed” time. I usually take it in her room with me and scroll while I wait for those tell tale signs that she’s fallen asleep, so I can escape. But what really happens is I stay in there far past the moment she falls asleep wasting time. That’s the time I could be spending with my husband or watching TV, basically doing something that makes me happy.
I don’t expect to never use my phone again; it’s a good thing in moderation and makes my life easier in a bunch of different ways. It’s just that I need to manage my time better. My goal is to continue to monitor my weekly time via the Screen Time app and cut my time in half over the next month. My phone doesn’t rule my life; those days will be behind me soon enough.