I have to tell you, I never saw myself writing this post. I thought this would always be the bane of my existence and the goal I just never see any momentum in. But this year, I am seeing a big improvement from an average of 3 hours on my phone each day to 2 or less!
Here’s what has actually helped me make the change that I hope will be helpful to you too!
1. Checking screen time often
This might seem to go against using your phone less but this was the first time I put the settings app as one of my 4 at the bottom and checked it often throughout the day. I used to not look till the end of the day, and at that point, I normally would be over and say “to heck with it, I’ll try again tomorrow.” As I see the minutes throughout the day, I’m able to make better decisions in the moment. If I’ve hit an hour before noon, I know scrolling isn’t an option in the school pick up line. It’s the same with our bank accounts. We can’t spend within a budget if we don’t know what we’re actually spending. This one is one of the most important!
Do NOT ignore it out of fear what it will show you. Once you know the measurements, you can begin adjusting but you got to study your numbers. I noticed that I’d have really good weekends offline and then Monday would be my highest day. It’s made me be intentional with Mondays even more, knowing I do like to catch up some on Insta after two days off so maybe I spend less time Voxing and save that for Tuesday. You might think that it makes no difference if you spend the time on Tuesday or Monday but we’re humans and subconsciously we think that if we go over our goal, it’s ok to blow past it. If we are close to our goal on two days, we’ll likely put more effort in hitting it than if one day was really good and one day we’re already over. It’s like food, if you already blew your diet for the day, why not FEAST?
If you know you’re doing an Insta Live on Thursday and a long call on Sunday, be aware of that before the day begins so you can cut back other places.
To find your screen time on an iPhone: Go to your settings app. Click “Screen Time”. You might have to turn this feature on before you can see your daily count.
2. Deleting social media apps after use
If this sounds like a nuisance, that’s a good thing. There’s no mindless scrolling if you have to download the app, and put in your login information every time. Because I use Insta for business too, I can use it on my desktop but my time is much more monitored and tracked during a workday, so I can’t derail like I can at 9 PM.
3. Putting phone in another room by 6 every day
I mentioned this in my post about My 2019 Life-Changers, but I’ve been more consistent with it AND if I’m getting close to my 2-hour limit, I’ll even put it away as early as 3 PM! It’s at the back of our house in the laundry room. I’ve teased my husband, “just tucked her in for the night” or one night when I felt like there was still lots I needed to respond too (AKA no real emergencies or important, but the seemingly urgent) I told him I “tucked her in but she’s crying”. This is super weird and I cannot believe I’m sharing but I say this not because my phone is as important as a child but because I needed to verbalize that she was put up for the night and not something I could go back to and “wake up”.
4. Realizing how it could change everything
I’ve got some BIIIIG goals for this year and they won’t fit into my life is I’m scrolling for hours every day. Things have felt so fast-paced the last few weeks as I’ve tried to pursue these goals and I’m realizing, it’s not the goals that stress me out, it’s the time wasted on my phone that’s making it feel like it’s too much. Would I rather achieve a really cool goal this year or know what’s happening with every person on the planet that I don’t know? It was easy to be ok with the time I was on my phone when there wasn’t something huge competing with it but now that there is, my phone loses.
5. Being confronted with the facts often
I printed out this article and keep it in my planner so I can reread periodically. When this stuff is front of mind, it’s so much easier to see the realities of why I want to be on my phone less. There’s also plenty of books I’ve read on the topics too. But I love this New York Times article to come back to! Find it here.
6. Following accounts that point me offline
I started following a few accounts that redirect me offline. @ScreenLifeBalance does this more directly, but I also love following @JamesClear who wrote Atomic Habits and points me to living my life and pursuing goals. It’s always been my hope that my own account will do this too by pointing you to prayer or other worthwhile “in real life” things!
7. Visualizing moments without my phone
I haven’t blocked off time to do this, but reading the article I mentioned in #5 and just picturing my life without my phone has been really helpful to see what I’ve been missing. I shared a few days ago about how much of a difference being off my phone had made a difference to my kids as evidenced by their behavior and the choices I was able to make while I wasn’t staring at a phone.
8. Getting my head right
This step, I actually took about two years ago but I think it’s vitally important because it addresses my heart when it comes to my phone. I think it was necessary to do the work before these other approaches worked! Check it out here!
9. Praying about it!
Our phone time is no small thing. It keeps us from so much. It feels like a really practical thing we just need to do but we really need to bring it before the Lord. I noticed this month, I didn’t just write down the usual “be present” in my prayer journal, but got specific and referenced my screen time. It might feel bold but be specific. Pray that you will cut back to 2 hours or less (or whatever number you are aiming for) on your phone.
We still have a few of our yearly prayer journals left! Grab one here!
Is the phone a daily struggle or have you tamed the beast? I’d love to hear! I’ll also be chatting more about this in my Insta stories tomorrow, so come join me!