While smartphones are a helpful tool for connecting with friends and family, it can also be a time-suck. The average American spends over 4 hours and 23 minutes on their phones each day. Since the average person is awake for 16 hours a day, this means that a fourth of our waking hours are consumed by phone usage.
Whether you want to become more productive, embrace new hobbies or simply spend more time with your loved ones, cutting back on screen time helps you free up your schedule.
The Drawbacks of Too Much Screen Time
Excessive screen time strains your eyes, increases your levels of stress and undermines your quality of sleep. If you’re always glancing at your phone, this can interfere with your ability to focus and be productive.
This is why it’s important to practice moderation in relation to your screen time.
Ways to Reduce Your Screen Time
Sometimes, we can spend hours on our phone scrolling through social media without being aware that time is flying. Other times, we might glance at our phones intermittently throughout the day. This might not seem like it takes much time, but over the course of the day these little bits of screen time build up.
Luckily, There are practices you can establish to distance yourself from the tempting glow of your phone. Check out our screen time reduction tips below.
While you probably don’t think about it, the vibrant app symbols found on smartphones implore you to click them. The colorful hues stimulate your eyes in just the right way to suck you down the rabbit hole of excessive phone-use. Changing your app colors to grayscale is one way to combat this.
In fact, research by the University of North Dakota found that study participants who set their phones to grayscale spent an average of about 38 minutes less time on their screens than those with regular-colored phones.
If you want to set your iPhone to grayscale, here’s how you can do so:
- Click the Settings app, then tap on Accessibility
- Tap Display Text Size, click Color Filters and toggle Color Filters on
- Select Grayscale
To change your Android to grayscale, follow these steps:
- Open the Quick Settings panel with a two-finger swipe from the top of your phone screen
- Click the lower-left Pen icon
- Drag Grayscale into your tiles list
- Press the icon whenever you want to toggle grayscale on or off
Start Tracking Your Screen Time
One of the best ways to reduce your screen time is to start measuring it. After all, if you don’t realize that a problem exists, there’s no way to work toward a solution.
Once you’ve figured out a baseline for how long you spend on your phone daily, you can work toward cutting back your screen time one second at a time.
Most smartphones also have a setting where you can set app time limits. Figure out which apps you spend the most time on and set daily limits for yourself.
For example, if you find yourself spending two hours a day on Instagram, set an app time limit for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Once you reach your limit, your phone will notify you telling you your time is up.
Turn Off Notifications
Notifications are one of the most dangerous parts of smartphones. You could be eating dinner with your family or talking to a friend when your phone vibrates in your pocket, demanding your attention. It can be hard to resist the temptation to check your phone, which can lead you to checking your social media or playing games.
There are a couple of ways to limit the notifications you receive. You can go into your settings to turn off notifications for specific apps that you use too often. You can also temporarily halt notifications by turning on Do Not Disturb mode on your iPhone.
Practice New Hobbies
Sometimes the reason we engage in excessive phone use is because we have nothing better to do. When you’re bored, it’s easy to reach toward your phone for entertainment. To prevent these pockets of boredom, fill your time with meaningful hobbies.
Some hobbies you might want to start include: Gardening, running, meditating, doing yoga, writing, hiking or painting. You might even want to start one of these hobbies with a loved one.
Invite a friend to go on a hike or recruit a family member to take a painting class with you. This way you can nourish important relationships while uprooting a bad habit.
Leave Your Phone In Another Room
Whether we are shopping at the store, watching TV or even going to sleep, our phone is typically nearby, chiming and vibrating at random intervals. But when your phone is out of sight, it’s out of mind.
Practice separating yourself from your phone for small chunks of time. Maybe you walk around the block with your phone left charging on your kitchen counter. You might feel a wave of FOMO, like there’s some all-important notification that you’re missing on your phone. Let this feeling pass, and a new feeling of freedom will appear in its place.
After you’ve reduced your screen time, you can spend more time on self-care. To improve your mental wellbeing, implement self-care practices like the ones below.
When we’re feeling stressed, that energy needs to be channeled somewhere. Journaling can help you express your emotions on paper without the fear of being judged. When you write down important experiences and memories in your journal, it helps you better understand your thoughts and feelings.
Additionally, journaling helps you clarify your desires and priorities. This can help you on the journey to self-actualization.
For more information about journaling, check out our journaling power tips.
Our minds can chatter at a thousand miles per minute. One second we’re thinking about an upcoming deadline at work, the next second we’re remembering that video we saw on Reddit of a monkey swinging face-first into a tree. To stop this mental chatter and reconnect with the present moment, meditation is an invaluable tool.
While there are a variety of ways to meditate, one of the simplest is to sit and watch your breath.
Simply find a comfortable position either crossing your legs, sitting on a pillow or even laying down on the bed and set a timer for five minutes. Now, just breathe in and out, following the rhythm of the breath. If you find yourself thinking about the future or stressing about the past, simply redirect your attention back to your breath until your timer sounds.
A consistent gratitude practice can change the way you live your life. While it’s easy to get caught up in the things that are going wrong, there are always small things you can be grateful for. Take some time aside each day to acknowledge the things that you appreciate.
You might incorporate a gratitude practice into your journaling routine, where you list three things a day that made you smile. You could also enlist a friend to practice gratitude with you at the end of each day, where you each take turns describing the things that you take for granted.
This practice will help you start seeing your life from a more positive perspective.
Too much of anything is a bad thing, smartphones included. Reduce your screen time by switching to grayscale, practicing new hobbies and turning off app notifications. Once you’ve freed up more time away from your phone, you can spend more time on self-care habits like meditating and journaling. With consistent effort, you can take steps toward increasing your mental and physical wellbeing.
To learn more about phone usage and how to reduce your screen time, check out the infographic below.
Author bio: Rhett Rivera was born and raised in the small, farm-town of Waterford, California. His extroverted personality led him to pursuing a degree in Public Relations at California State University, Fullerton, where he discovered a passion for digital communications.
After interning at Social Wise Communications creating content for social media and pitching stories to newsrooms, Rhett found his way to Siege Media, where he creates top-notch content that drives traffic for clients.