With the rise of advanced technology, there are undoubtedly benefits to make life easier. Features like alams, meal tracking, reminders, rapid communication, GPS, and calendars are all examples of ways we use portable technological devices to enhance our day. However, it becomes extremely hard not to get sucked into spending too much time on our screens, with entertainment, social platforms, games and apps, commanding our time. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, screen time has noticeably increased in the last year, which can lead to a vast array of health and wellness problems. Everyone would benefit from a cut-back of screen time, so here is a list of practical ways to reduce your daily screen time, shared by top industry professionals.
Download a Screen Time Timer
Too much screen time usage is a common enough problem that multiple apps were created to help reduce your time spent. I highly recommend you download an app onto your smartphone or computer that monitors how much time you spend on a screen. Depending on the version you choose, some will take note of the structuring of your time so you have a deeper understanding of how much time each task takes, while others allow you to set a timer for certain apps, such as social platforms, which then close down the app once your time is reached. Of course, many of us use screen time for remote work now, as the hybrid work model is a new way of business. In this case, it can be helpful to realize how you’re structuring your time on each platform, such as email or document creation. But for anyone struggling to cut back time spent on social platforms, a timer lock can help immensely.
Michael Jankie, Founder The Natural Patch Co
Ignore Your Screens in the Mornings
Our phones and watches and tablets help us so frequently in daily life that they almost feel like an extension of us. Because my devices are always present, and I use them for many little things throughout my day, like checking the weather or my calendar, I often find myself reaching for a screen first thing in the morning. I’ve discovered that I much prefer to start my day away from the distractions of screens or else I can easily get lost in checking my various apps before I even get up and start my day. I set the personal rule that my mornings are going to be screen free. The results have left me feeling more productive and with a clearer head for the rest of the day–and this significantly reduces my overall daily screen usage.
Kelli Lane, Chief Marketing Officer Genexa
Schedule Specific Screen Time and Stick to It
If impromptu screen usage is wasting your time–like when you mean to check the weather but end up scrolling through Instagram–schedule specific screen time into your day. Creating an hour to hour schedule is highly advantageous for productivity, so map out your day and allot time to scroll through all the social channels without feeling guilty. Be mindful of how much time you want to allow yourself and when you want to schedule it. For me, I use social media or mindless phone apps as a stress reliever, when I want to have a break from thinking about important work or personal matters. I schedule my screen time for the afternoons, after my work is completed. I find that if I allow myself any social media time beforehand, as in during the work day, I will lose my productive mentality. Consider what works best for you and stick to a schedule.
Dylan Fox, Founder and CEO AssemblyAI
Ignore Your Screens During Meals and Breaks
If you ever find yourself on your phone or tablet during meals and breaks at work, you are not alone. Sometimes you just want that break from the immediate pressures of your day and turn to some easy entertainment. However, various apps and social platforms have been shown to actually increase stress and anxiety with their underlying messages about what you’re missing compared to everyone else. Be mindful about whether your screen time is truly relaxing you or is actually amping up your stress. You can reduce your screen time with little effort by choosing to put your devices away during your meals and breaks. If you’re eating with others, there is such a feeling of easy normalcy when having a conversation over your meal rather than isolating yourself into your screen. And if you want to do something relaxing during your work breaks, try to switch gears away from your devices. Perhaps get some fresh air or listen to a podcast, but choosing these options over looking at your phone will add a sense of true relaxation to your downtime.
Jordan Dwayne, Founder and Designer 6 Ice
Place Your Phone Across the Room
When you’re working or studying or otherwise involved in something requiring deep concentration, there is nothing more distracting than a notification on your phone. Something about knowing you’re trying to be reached creates a sense of urgency to check the notification. And we all know this more often than not leads to being sucked into an app or platform and losing unaccounted-for time. Certainly there are some messages that cannot be ignored, but if you need to focus and find yourself distracted by notifications that can wait, I recommend you place your phone across the room, on silent mode even, and plan to work with total focus. Sometimes I’ll set a timer for a set amount of time, as I can be even more productive knowing there’s a time limit. Once the time is up, I allow myself a short break to move around and maybe even to quickly answer my notifications.
Steven Zeldes, Founder and CEO AvaCare Medical LLC
Utilize the “Do Not Disturb” Feature
With the advance in technology it is now increasingly easy to get a hold of others. When we’re working through a global pandemic and wanting to stay in contact with people we are distanced from, this is an incredibly wonderful feature of the 21st century. However, there are times when receiving constant communication can be hindering or even harmful to daily life. Social platforms send non-urgent notifications that invite you back to the app–yet, there’s often a sense that we must respond immediately. I advise you to utilize the “Do Not Disturb” feature on your smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch in moments when you don’t want any distractions. This way, you’ll be impervious to the notifications until you are in a better space to respond.
Jason Wong, CEO Building Blocks
Delete Unnecessary Apps
Fixing the issue of finding yourself wasting time on your screens can be as simple as deleting unnecessary apps. If social media always sucks you in and leaves you regretting the time you lost, delete your social media. You don’t have to delete your account, but deleting your social media apps will keep you from checking them throughout the day. Instead, you can redownload and sign in at the end of the day or end of the week, and repeat the process as necessary. Deleting any platform or app that’s unnecessarily dividing your attention from what really matters is a form of cleansing. Sometimes people find they only need to take these steps during a time period where they find themselves highly distractible or procrastinating, and can return to normal once they’ve broken their screen time habits; at other times, this de-cluttered screen technique becomes a new way of life.
Ben Teicher, President and CEO Healthy Directions
Create Screen-Free Areas
You can reduce your daily screen time by creating screen-free and screen-acceptable areas, at work and at home and anywhere necessary. This method generally shifts the way you think about screen time, because if you ban screens from your workspace, you are establishing that screen time is anti-productive and not necessary when you need to focus; similarly, if you ban screens from the bedroom, you are establishing that screen time is non-relaxing and takes away from quality time settling into your day or your sleep. However, you can set a clear structure for where screens are allowed, such as when on public transportation, when in long lines, or when unwinding from your work day. Creating a new mentality around screen time can be effective and helpful.
Dylan Arthur Garber, Co-Founder Audien Hearing
Brainstorms Replacement Ways to Spend Your Time
We use screens for almost everything today, even procedures we would have physically done in the past. For example, creative endeavours such as drawing or painting can now be done on apps. I don’t think this is a bad thing at all, as new technological advances open up worlds of creative avenues and help people hone their craft. However, if you want to spend less time on screens, consider replacing activities you would do digitally with physical activities. Maybe take up your hobby or craft in an in-person setting for part of the week, and only use the screen version when you’re in a setting where it’s more convenient. Reducing your screen time could be as simple as brainstorming replacement ways to spend your screen time; instead of going on social media, take a walk, or bake a dessert, or play with your pet. Even limiting a small amount of screen time can be extremely beneficial and make you more present and available to those around you.
Dan Potter, Managing Director and CEO CRAFTD
Go Oldschool with Physical Books
You can easily reduce screen time by focusing on changing small specific habits. I choose to go oldschool with my reading by making the decision to read physical books wherever possible rather than ebooks, pdfs, or digital textbooks. While I do like engaging with music, podcasts, and audiobooks, this doesn’t lead to me staring at a screen for long periods of time, and allows me to spend time in the real world while I listen. Change can start small, so consider what areas you can incorporate into the physical world rather than on your screens.
Geoff Percy, CEO Simple
Go Outside When You Head Towards a Screen
After a full day of work where I am bound to a screen for a good portion, I do not like to allow myself to relax in front of a screen as well. Instead, whenever I find myself heading towards some kind of screen time, whether it be a digital app, social media check-in, or television, I try to first spend some time in nature. I love walking my dog immediately after work because it helps me clear my head and gives me quality time with my pet. Making small adjustments is all it takes to reduce screen time.
Manish Joneja, CEO BarkBox