How to reduce your screen time in 5 steps



We keep spending more time in front of our phones. Studies do not agree on the exact number of hours we spend every day looking at our smartphone, but a good average of those studies is that we spend between 2 and 3 hours in front of our phones per day. Even if phones provide us value through apps and various features, we should be careful about our screen time. It is now proven by science that the blue light issued by screens damage our eyes if we expose them for too long. If you are working from home, or if you spend a lot of time in front of your computer, this could become a problem after several years.

Smartphones are also distracting. Reducing screen time could be wise if you want to be more focused on your work. For me, reducing screen time is a real challenge. I travel and then write reports about those trips. I must spend a long time sitting at my desk to write those reports. If you want to read about my travels in Scotland, Spain and France, and also learn about our world’s secrets in general, you can check my website: Roots Travler.

A good solution to reduce screen time could be to throw away your smartphone. However, I will not recommend this drastic option. Indeed, we do get value from our smartphones, and it would be dumb to prevent ourselves to use such a powerful tool.

What I recommend for changing the situation is a diet. Even if 90% of diets fail, it is not the same here. Diets fail because the results come after a long time. Our brains are wired for instant gratification, not for long-term results. This is the reason why diets fail. However, here the results will show up so quickly that you will probably never stop this diet once you started it. With that method, you will get back the control on your smartphone usage.

I track my screen time for more than one year and it has reduced by 100% the first week I started caring about it. I went from 4 hours a day to 2 hours a day. Sometimes, I was going back to 3 or 4 hours a day. But now, with the additional lessons I learnt on the way, I can spend less than 1 hour a day in front of my phone. I will share with you those lessons in this method.

The five steps to reduce your screen time below 1 hour per day

Step 1 – Save your original screen time

Whenever you challenge yourself, it is great to know your starting point. To know your current screen time, simply use the built-in feature of your smartphone. iPhone and Samsung both have it. If your smartphone does not have a time-tracking option, you can download one. Once you are ready, it’s time to know your starting point. Just like athletes love before/after pictures, here you can do a before/after screenshot of your screen time. If you do not know how to take a screenshot, check this article which explains how to take a screenshot on Android.

Step 2 – Analyse your phone usage

First, realizing that you are using your phone too much is the most important point of the method. If you are conscious about your phone usage, you will soon be able to limit yourself, just with strong will. On the other hand, you will still have subconscious phone usage. To know how you use your phone, check out the data that your time-tracking tool saves. It will show you on which apps you spend the most time. Usually, it will be WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, Twitter or Facebook which comes up front. Basically, all social media apps. They are the most time-consuming because they are the ones which are created to distract you. If you watch a lot of video content, YouTube and Netflix could also arrive on top.

Step 3 – Focus on the most time-consuming apps

The law of 80/20 does apply here too. This is the Pareto law saying that 80% of the results occur thanks to 20% of the causes. Here, 80% of your screen time will be controlled by 20% of your apps. This means that you do not have to care about all your apps -that’s good news if you have lots of them-. Indeed, you simply must focus on the ones which you use the most. Uninstalling them from your phone to only check them on your computer is the best option. Otherwise, if you are not ready for this, you can start by simply turning off push-up notifications from them (refer to step 5 for this). You can also put a time limit on those apps. 5 minutes is a good number. Not a magical one for everyone, but it is enough to check what you value without spending too much time. Appearing offline on some social media apps can also be a powerful option. To know how to do that on Facebook or Messenger, check this article which explains how to appear offline on Facebook app‌ and Messenger.

Step 4 – Make sure that other apps do not replace the old ones


After a week, check if your screen time has decreased. If it has not, understand why. Is it because you keep watching the same apps over and over? If this is the case, you should be a bit stricter with yourself. On the other hand, if this is not the case, there could be another reason. Something that happens very often is that you keep spending the same number of hours in front of your screen by habit. You replace your old time-consuming apps with other ones! For instance, when I started my screen time diet, YouTube and Facebook were my most-used apps. I uninstalled them. I was very happy with this solution because I was strict with myself. But my screen time did not decrease. Why? Because instead, I was using Safari to connect on YouTube and Facebook! My Safari screen time grew up very quickly, which resulted in my general screen time staying still through the weeks. You must make sure that other apps do not replace old ones.

By the way, if you want to show me your results with your screen time reduction, you can send me screenshots or videos of your data on my Instagram. I will repost them for sure. If you do not know how to record your screen, you can check this article which explains how to record screen for iPhone. On my Instagram, you will also see pictures from dream destinations, natural wonders and places where I have been.

Step 5 – Turn off all your notifications

Social media addiction works the same way as nicotine’s addiction. Whenever you see someone smoking, you want to smoke too. It creates a habit. It is the same for notifications. When receiving one, your brain secretes dopamine, which creates a habit. You become addicted to notifications. The best way to realize this is to see people increasing their notification’s volume as loud as possible, putting the flashlight on, and so on. What those persons are doing is making the dopamine’s secretion bigger -or maybe they cannot feel the smaller dopamine secretions anymore, just like smokers need to smoke more through the years to feel the effects-. So, the first step is easy to put in practice, simply go to Settings, Notifications, and Disallow Push-up Notifications from all social media apps.

To have complementary information about reducing screen time, I recommend that you watch this short video about how to reduce screen time from Matt D’Avella.

Conclusion

Remember that you are doing this to protect your eyes and your mental health. Smartphone addiction is real and reducing screen time will help you to break it. This method applies to everyone who has a smartphone. It applies to any age and any character. It’s universal and you can start it now. You should give it a try.

Guillaume Borde, Roots Travler
Guillaume Borde, Roots Travler

Guillaume Borde is a French 19-year-old student who launched his website rootstravler.com to inspire people to travel and share his values. Interested in minimalism, he also writes books during his spare time.
 




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