Phone addiction is this generation's smoking. In the U.S., 47% of people claim to be addicted to their smartphones. Most people cannot imagine spending 24 hours without their smartphones.
These pocket computers truly do consume most of our lives (and for good reason). You can connect with people, check the weather, catch up on the latest news and events, and express yourself. What's not to like?
While you can blame the tech giants for your addiction, that won't get you very far. You need to reclaim your power and reduce screen time. But how?
This guide will walk you through nine things you can do to get started.
1. Answer the Why
Before you start to reduce your screen time, you need to figure out why you're spending so much time on your smartphone in the first place. Get to the root cause of this issue.
Are you trying to escape some aspect of your reality? Are you bored with your current work situation? Are you not being stimulated enough?
Once you can decipher the why you can begin to tackle the task at hand. From there, you can find more meaningful things to do with your time.
2. Record Screen Time
If you want to start reducing your screen time, the first step is to become more aware of how much time you're currently spending. Search your phone's settings to find how much time you're spending. It will even break it down per app.
There are plenty of apps as well that can help you figure out your current screen time and find ways to improve your digital well-being. With a clearer picture, you'll be able to set more concrete goals to reduce screen time.
3. Set Hard Limits
Once you have a better grasp on how much time you're actually spending on your phone, it's time to set hard limits. This is where self-discipline comes into play.
There are a few ways to go about this.
You could reduce screen time overall. This would include the number of times you unlock your phone. You could also cut down on how much time you spend on the biggest time suckers.
Apps like Freedom will enable you to block apps for however long you wish.
4. Create Screen-Free Zones
Create a schedule for yourself so that you know when it's time to work and when it's okay to goof off. A good approach to this is time-blocking. The process is simple—schedule your time in blocks so that you know exactly what to do and when.
You also want to create screen-free zones. There are some places where the smartphone doesn't need to be like the bathroom, dining room, and bedroom. When it's time to have some fun, enjoy a puzzle with a friend.
5. Call People
Have you become too accustomed to texting people? It's so easy to rely on these days, isn't it? We encourage you to use your smartphone the old-fashioned way and call people.
Separating texting and calling will do wonders for you and your relationships. Not only will this reduce screen time, but you will also form a closer bond with the people in your social circle.
With texting, there is a lot that gets missed or lost in translation. Some things are just better with your actual voice. Give it a try and you'll be amazed at how much better you start to feel.
6. Limit Your Number of Screens
How many screens do you have in your home? How many do you have in the room you're in right now? If you're like most people, it will be a lot.
Everyone has become so accustomed to using multiple screens simultaneously that it's become an afterthought. For example, how often do you binge-watch shows on Netflix while scrolling through your news feed?
Reduce screen time by (at least) only using one device at a time. This is especially true if you find yourself overstimulated during your day.
7. Be Boring
Boredom used to be a natural part of everyday life. When people are bored these days, they won't even give it a second thought before grabbing their smartphone.
The interesting thing is that boredom is good for you. If you can resist that first urge or temptation to grab your smartphone, you'll be much closer to reducing screen time.
8. Go Old School
Contrary to belief, many tasks don't even require a smartphone. For example, a pen and paper will do the trick.
While it may take some getting used to at first, you'll soon love it. There is something so magical about this approach, too. For bigger projects, we recommend using a dry-erase board.
When you leave the house, try not to bring your smartphone. A short walk around the neighborhood with your dog can do wonders for your psyche.
9. Switch off Before Bed
Using your smartphone or computer before bed will impact your sleep in a negative way. These devices have a high amount of blue light that is bad for your eyes.
Treat your bedroom with respect and put away your smartphone. Put it in another room if you have to with the alarm set. This way it'll get you up to turn it off.
Replace your device with healthy habits to reduce screen time before bed. Curl up with a good book. This will naturally lull you to sleep and create some interesting dreams.
What Can I Do Instead?
Now that we've discussed some ways you can reduce screen time in your daily life, you might be wondering: what can I do instead of turning to my smartphone? Here are some ideas for how you can relax and have fun, all while remaining screen-free:
- Puzzling: Breaking out a puzzle is a great way to create something special while keeping your mind sharp. You can also easily make this a group activity and invite family and friends to join the fun!
- Reading: Nothing quite beats settling in with a good book. You could even join a book club (or start your own!).
- Writing: As we mentioned earlier, try breaking out the pen and paper. You could start a journal, or maybe even try out writing some poetry or short stories.
- Listen to music: Most of us probably listen to music on our smartphones in this day and age, but why not try some methods of the past? Go analog and pick up some vinyl or cassettes, or break out the old CD player.
- DIY projects: If your hands feel empty without a smartphone, try using your hands for some crafting instead. You could try knitting, woodworking, or, if you're feeling ambitious, a small renovation project.
- Cook or bake: You can't go wrong with cooking or baking something delicious -- bonus points if you use a cookbook recipe instead of accessing one on your phone!
- Enjoy time outdoors: When weather allows, leave your phone at home and enjoy some time in the great outdoors. Take a walk, have a picnic in the park -- the possibilities are endless.
Reduce Screen Time for a Healthier Life
Recognize addiction for what it is. Don't let it get you down—you can overcome it. When you reduce screen time, know that you're on your way to a healthier life.
Others will pick up on this and want to follow suit. Once you pull away, you'll begin to see how much better you feel. You'll begin to hear your voice again.
We encourage you to try reducing your screen time starting today with a puzzle. It's something the whole family will enjoy!