I’m a big fan of the mindless scroll (hello, Chris Hemsworth content!). But I could feel in my bones that my scrolling was becoming problematic. My screen time was sitting at 8–9 hours a day and I was moving through life like an overstimulated toddler, never truly able to switch off and relax.
Recently, years of burnout and 10 months of grief came to a head; I was on the verge of total collapse. Something had to give. So, I booked myself in for a health retreat.
For 6 days, I went totally off-grid. No wi-fi, no phone reception, no TV. For the first time in a long, long time I was truly present, and it was the wake-up call I needed.
So when I got home, I implemented some healthy phone boundaries, and I can honestly say it has changed my life. My screen time is down to 3–5 hours a day, and from that I am sleeping better, my mental health has improved, I have a longer attention span, and I am spending more quality time being present with my family and actually enjoying my life.
Now, I don’t want you to feel bad if you think your screen time is out of control. Let’s face it, apps were designed to be addictive, and with so much going on in our lives, wrestling with our desire for ‘just one more scroll’ can seem too hard. So put the shame down, and instead come at the issue from a place of compassion and kindness, and a desire to have your life work for YOU, not the other way around.
Here’s what I did to cut my screen time in half:
1. I don’t charge my phone next to my bed. We’ve all been there: looking at one thing on our phone, next minute it’s 1 am and we’re deep in a rabbit hole about the invention of the spatula! Keeping my phone on the other side of the room reduces night-time scrolling by removing the temptation to pick it up altogether. It’s also a bonus that I physically have to get up to turn off my alarm!
2. I turn on downtime settings. My phone locks me out of all apps except my sleep music and Spotify from 8 pm–7:30 am. This means I’m off my phone from 8 pm every night. And honestly, my sleep has transformed. Don’t worry, there is the ability to override it if you absolutely need to do something, but it gives you the chance to reflect on whether it is so important that it can’t wait until morning. Most of the time, it won’t be. For those reminders you don’t want to forget, keep an old-fashioned paper and pen by your bed to jot things down.
3. I don’t use my phone for socials for the first 1–2 hours of the day. Using my downtime settings, I allow anything I need for the gym in the early mornings, such as Spotify, but that’s it! This has changed my mental health — and I don’t say that lightly.
4. I set app limits. Want to shock yourself? Find out how much time you spend on each app. To say that discovering how addicted I was to certain apps humbled me is an understatement! So I customised app limits on certain days. For example, I use Instagram for work a lot, so I allow more time on the app during the week, then set a limit of one hour a day on weekends.
5. I set up focus modes. These are a game-changer and can be set up to turn on automatically. I have a “Me Time” mode that turns on daily from 5pm and limits who can contact me (because owning my own business means that my phone goes crazy at all hours of the day). It has the ability to allow repeat callers though, so I’m still contactable in an emergency. It also limits certain apps and notifications, because sometimes it’s too easy to feel powerless against the little red badge!
You can also customise home pages for each mode; for example, setting a work home screen that shows your emails and calendar, work apps and no socials, etc., and a weekend home screen that removes the work stuff so you aren’t tempted to be ‘on’ all the time.
You deserve to feel happy and confident – and to not feel like a slave to your devices. I won’t lie, it’s uncomfortable at first, and takes some getting used to, but once you start noticing the benefits, you’ll never look back!