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Precious Time

Each Sunday my phone notifies me of my average daily screen time for the week. Normally, I swipe it away without noticing, but last week, something prompted me to open it up. I knew that I zoned out on my phone too much–mainly on social media, but the proof was staggering. I was wasting literal hours of the day. Hours I could be hanging with my family, getting things done around the house, writing, you name it.

I must state: This post is in no way meant to judge. I realize we all have our own ways of unwinding, but for me, social media is a huge energy suck. I gravitate to these apps mindlessly without ever realizing how much time I’ve wasted until my neck hurts from looking down, or I glance at the time and realize an hour has passed. They make me feel inadequate–like I’m not achieving enough as an author, that I’m not posting enough, or getting enough engagement. It’s not a healthy place for me mentally, but as a working writer, I can’t or won’t remove my social media presence completely because I recognize the value in it for professional purposes. What I decided I could do, is limit screen time and be more intentional and mindful about the way I spend my time. So I’ve cut back considerably, only opening the apps when I’m going to take a few minutes to post, reply to comments, check in with accounts I follow, etc. The difference is a big change in my productivity, my creativity and my mental clarity.

A few hacks I found useful, for anybody considering something like this:

  • Move social media apps to the last page of your home screen so instead of picking up your phone to open Instagram on auto-pilot, you have to swipe through all your other apps in order to get there. Not a huge change, but it gives me pause to think about why I’m seeking out my phone, and consider doing something else instead.

  • Take screen free brakes at work. Getting outside, or at least away from my desk is a mental reset.

  • Refill your Creative Well. Catch up on things you’ve put off. Learn something new or practice something you never make time for (I see you, guitar…) Read books! I’ve adapted my morning coffee routine to incorporate non-fiction books, and I love it, and will not go back to spending my alone time scrolling. I’m reading and learning so much from Healing With Whole Foods, on loan to be from my friend and ND. I’ve put off reading The Artist’s Way for a YEAR because I kept saying “I don’t have time”. Turns out I do have time, I just wasted it in a slump on the couch with my phone in one hand and my coffee cup in the other.

I’m not saying I’ll never fall down an internet rabbit hole again. I will. I already have. Sometimes you just need the release of a good belly laugh thanks to a dumb cat video or The Office memes, and there is nothing wrong with that. But my goal here was to strike a better balance. I wanted my time back. Also, I don’t want my daughter to see me glued to this thing. I mean she already has, but I want her to see me break the habit. 

I couldn’t believe the difference when I got that screen time notification yesterday. Just by taking a few simple measures, I decreased my average screen time for the week by 77%. Read that again. 

I don’t want to give the impression that I’m walking around with all this free time now, because that’s not the case. But I guess this is all to say that if you’re feeling overwhelmed because there aren’t enough hours in the day, you might actually have more time than you think. You don’t need to take drastic measures to reduce screen time, and the payoff is so worth it, if there are things you’d rather be doing instead.  


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