Work today is very much centered around technology, which means we’re in front of screens, more often than not. From laptops and tablets to smartphones and projectors, screens are everywhere.
As integral as they are for our working lives, we would be well off minimizing how often we use them outside of these moments. After all, how great can life be if we spend a majority of it looking at a screen? The latest research says we spend nearly 11 hours in front of screens, which is crazy, but also easy to believe.
So how do we cut down on this time? I’m not going to go extreme and say cut yourself off completely, but just a few simple changes can make a huge difference.
Here are 5 easy ways we can all decrease our screen time and live a better life.
1. Buy an alarm.
What’s the first thing we do in the mornings? Turn off the alarm on our phones. And there it is. We’re already sucked into screen time and it’s ever so easy to start checking your email, social media, and all the rest.
We may not realize it, but this is a terrible habit many of us have picked up, myself included. An easy workaround is to just buy an alarm clock, to handle this part of our day.
This simple change will make your mornings far more enjoyable. As a bonus, charge your phone in another room, so that the temptation is further removed.
2. Turn off auto-play.
We all watch TV with the best of intentions. Just one episode then we’ll do something more useful with our time. But how often does that actually happen? The biggest culprit for this unproductive behavior is auto-play.
If you’re anything like me, this will sound familiar. You finish an episode of something and you’re on the fence on whether to watch another one or turn off the TV. Then the countdown begins. We may be saying NO in our heads, but we kind of just let it happen don’t we? We’re sucked in, accept our fate, and sit down for another 30 to 60 minutes, even if we don’t want to.
The result? That one episode can turn into three, four, or more. The solution is turning off auto-play. Of course our favorite streaming services make this harder than it needs to be, but here are instructions for the most common ones:
Amazon Video: What Is Autoplay? (like we don’t know)
3. Wear a watch.
Not a smart watch, but a traditional old fashioned watch. Nowadays when we need to check the time, where do we look? At our phones. Again this opens up Pandora’s Box of distractions. You see the tiny Gmail or Facebook or Twitter notifications and can’t help yourself. Smart watches just make these distractions even more accessible.
Instead, just look at your old-fashioned timepiece and continue on with your day. Similar things apply with checking the weather, your calendar, and so on. If you can find alternative ways besides your phone to engage these tasks, it will make a big difference. I’ve found that using a Google Home or Alexa can work well in these situations.
4. Remove social media from your phone.
Many of us have no reason to have social media on our phones. Unless your job is literally to be on social media, which is surprisingly a viable career for some, you’re not missing out on much. While I find value in social media, I don’t think we need access to it every second of every day.
My compromise has been to remove most social media apps from my phone. If I need Facebook then I can just get on my computer to use it, no need to have it in my pocket. If it is on your phone, the temptation to mindlessly scroll through content can be far too great. This puts a stop to that behavior.
5. Turn off the notifications.
Distractions are the bane of our existence and the ultimate distraction is of course the little computer in our hands. More specifically the blinking lights, icons, buzzes, and beeps that we have been trained to pay attention to.
The easiest way to deal with all the notifications is to turn them off. Most apps make this challenging, but it’s worth the effort. Along the same lines, put your phone on silent or airplane mode when you’re working for some much needed quiet time.
And if that’s too much trouble, just leave your phone in another room for awhile, so you don’t have it literally calling for your attention.
The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.Karl Marx
As wonderful as technology is, too much of it is not a good thing. We need balance and we need to not be sucked into the bad habits that being always connected provides us.
Using these simple hacks for decreasing screen time, you can eliminate many distractions, boost your productivity, and live a better life. Give them a try and notice the difference.