If you’re like most of us, chances are that you’re usually a little taken aback when your average screen report alert pops up. No matter how surprised you were the previous week, no matter how sure you were that the next week would surely be lower, here you are again positive that there must be some sort of mistake with the data staring back at you.
It’s no secret that spending too much time on your phone isn’t good for you. Although we know that, it’s also no secret that habits don’t change unless we put realistic and actionable steps in place to change them.
If you’re on board to finally get that average screen report down, here are four simple, mindful strategies to reset and spend less time on your phone.
Wear a Watch
This is such a simple thing, but it might just make the biggest difference. The amount of times I’ve picked up my phone just to check the time but end up mindlessly swiping it open is astonishing. If you’re wearing a watch, however, you can instantly cut out so many instances that would otherwise have you reaching for your phone. The only catch – the watch has to be non-digital. Permission to go shopping, granted. It’s for your health!
Reserve Specific Activities for Specific Screens
The amount of things we can do on our phones is truly amazing… and dangerous. Between email, entertainment, education, transportation, shopping, and more, it’s no wonder that you can spend hours on your phone without ever noticing it. Apart from a swipe or tap of a button, there’s no effort for transition required between any of these activities- so it makes sense you look up hours later in a trance. Designating what you do and don’t use your phone for creates necessary transitions between activities, so you can be more mindful of what you’re doing.
Decide what makes sense for you and set boundaries that are challenging, but realistic. Some steps could be: limit email activity to your desktop, only watch shows on your TV, or turn texting conversations into phone calls whenever possible.
Have Other Things With You
If I had to guess, the majority of the times we reach for our phones are moments when there’s no specific task in mind. It’s just a filler to preoccupy us from one moment to the next.
To prevent the “filler” tendency, carry a book, magazine, journal, sketchbook, crossword puzzle, Rubik’s cube- whatever floats your boat- to occupy yourself with during commutes and down times that you would otherwise reach for your phone. If you have something else with you during those times, it will be much more attainable to scratch the itch for something to do without a screen.
Rearrange Your Phone
Ultimately, spending less time on our phones means making hard changes to make it less appealing for us to do so. Organizing and rearranging the contents of your phone can foster more mindfulness about what you spend time on your phone doing, and how often you reach for certain apps.
First, take stock of everything that’s on your phone and delete applications that aren’t serving you or that only create a time suck with their presence. For me, this meant deleting Facebook and Snapchat, which I really only reached for when I was looking to waste time.
Once you’ve trimmed your applications, rearrange what you choose to keep by making it harder to get to your weak spots, and placing better alternatives front and center. While Instagram made the cut for me personally, it’s kept in a file that I have to dig for. I’ve found that just the process of finding the app is often enough for me to realize I don’t actually want to be opening it the first place. On the other hand, moving my podcasts and audiobook app to the front screen has helped to make time I do choose to spend time on my phone more beneficial and purposeful.
Time on your phone doesn’t have to be absent minded and guilt ridden- it can be intentional and enjoyable. It may not be easy, but a little bit of mindfulness goes a long way in making hard changes. Let us know what works for you!