Scroll less, live more

How many hours do you spend on your phone or tablet each day? One hour? Two hours?

We can check social media, read the news, binge-watch TV shows and YouTube, and indulge in online shopping – all from the palm of our hand. It’s no surprise that we’re spending much more time attached to our phones.

I’ll be the first to admit it, I know that I have an obsession with my phone. I spend way too many hours of my day mindlessly swiping and tapping, jumping from one app to another, trapped in an endless loop of apps.

And I’m not alone in this struggle. According to app monitoring firm App Annie, people now spend an average of 4.8 hours a day on their mobile phone.
While I could justify my screen time due to work reasons, I know that sometimes I pick up my phone just out of habit and not because I have a good reason to use it. So, I want to change that. Going “cold turkey” would be very difficult. Plus, it’s not that we shouldn’t be on our phones. We need them to communicate and keep up with the world around us. I love having my daily phone call with my mum, checking the weather, and finding out what’s going on in the world. I shouldn’t feel guilty about using my phone, I just want to use it less, without completely disconnecting.
So, a few weeks ago I started setting some boundaries.

I changed the settings on my phone by adding daily time limits for apps, like Instagram, where I tend to lose track of time and spend hours scrolling. On an iPhone you’ll find it under Settings > Screen Time and then tap on the App Limits menu option. I decided to set my Instagram time limit to 45 minutes each day – that’ll help me cut it down.

The first couple of weeks were surprisingly easy – I can be quite motivated when I set myself a goal. I managed to reduce my screen time by 30% in the first week! My Instagram usage dramatically dropped from 93 minutes to just 33 minutes on average. I didn’t miss the endless scrolling, and I felt like I had more spare time to myself in the evening.

I know that creating new habits and sticking to them will take time; being aware of my phone usage has been an important step. By the end of the second week, my Instagram usage dropped from 11 hours a week to less than 4 hours a week. Although it took a bit of effort in the beginning, I’m definitely planning to stick with it.

So, I challenge you to look at how often you pick up your phone during the day. Are you doing it out of necessity or out of boredom? You can use your phone with intention so it improves your life, rather than overshadows it.