We’re slowly coming out of lockdown in many parts of Australia but our habits have changed and it’s fair to say, most of us have been spending a lot more time on our digital devices. Even when a lot of restrictions have lifted, there’s no certainty our increased screen time will change because hey – who knew it was so easy to stay in touch digitally?
We’re spending this extra screen time on our phones, our tablets, our PCs or our TVs. You only have to look at the figures from recent studies such as the one that tech company, Unruly, released on April 16th showing:
- 72% of those in the under-45s group have increased the time they spend on their mobile phones significantly.
- 35% of Australians have increased the time they spend on their mobile phones significantly.
- 28% of Australians are watching their connected TVs more.
- 26% of Australians are using their laptops more.
- 68% of those under-45 have increased their social media usage during this time.
We’re using a lot of this extra screen time creatively because we’re having Zoom meetings for work and also for keeping in touch with family and friends. We’re even doing online workouts, maybe some recipe tutorials in the kitchen, taking up an online course to learn new skills – or binge-watching what’s streaming.
It’s all creative time but it is a large increase in screen time. While it’s important for us to maintain a positive relationship with technology and to appreciate the power we have to stay connected in so many ways, we do need to take the time to manage our screen time each day.
How can we manage our screen time better?
It’s easier said than done, but research shows that shutting off from the digital world can improve sleep, foster healthy relationships, and increase your physical and mental health. As we continue to work remotely and stay in touch with family and friends digitally, it’s important to manage your screen time responsibly to avoid information overload.
How to separate work and non-work online/device time
With so many of us now working from home, it’s important to we separate work and non-work device time. Here’s some tips for balancing your time:
Diarise your calendar – scheduling in your calendar and circulating to your colleagues the times when you will be online/offline at work each day will help manage expectations on your availability and can be used as a reminder for when it’s time to sign off at the end of the day. You can also set a reminder half an hour before your day finishes so you know when it’s time to wrap things up.
Put time aside for lunch breaks – Blocking out time each day in your diary for a lunch break can be a game-changer for your overall wellbeing. Schedule some time to have some food, stretch your legs and re-set. This will help you energise yourself for the rest of the day, and also ensures your colleagues don’t interrupt your break.
Get yourself a work phone – separating work-related screen time from non-work screen time will help avoid scrolling through your emails on the weekend or opening up work issues before you go to bed. This will make using your normal phone more enjoyable, knowing it’s only for chatting with friends and family or following your personal interests on social channels.
There are some great mid-range smartphones on the market in the lower price range which are perfect for a safe and secure work device. One example is the Nokia 7.2 operating on the latest Android 10.
Dedicated work area – you wouldn’t stay back in the office to catch up on the latest Netflix series, would you? Make sure you’re working in a separate area of the house to where you’re catching up with friends on video chat, online shopping or watching television. This can help keep you more focused at work, avoid distractions, and help you make sure you relax more when switching off.
What’s a good app to help you manage your screen time and digital wellbeing?
If you struggle to manage your screen time, at work or at home, there are some great mobile applications which can help keep you accountable. For Android devices, one of the most popular is Digital Wellbeing, an app which gives you a daily view of your digital habits and allows you to disconnect when you want to.
Here are some of its features:
• Daily app timer – lets you set limits for how much time you spend on apps.
• Wind Down mode – reminds you to switch off at night by setting a schedule to fade
your screen to gray scale or silence notifications with ‘do not disturb’ mode.
• Focus mode – pauses distracting apps with a single tap so you can better focus your
time. You can also set a schedule to turn on Focus mode automatically and reduce
distractions while you’re at work, school, or home.
For your physical wellbeing, this Office Workout app is great for easy, desk-friendly workouts and stretches that you can do during the day to avoid pain or injury from poor posture or too much time spent sitting down at your desk each day.