Around four months ago, I started tracking the time I spend on my phone each day … as I mentioned in that post, I do use my phone to listen to podcasts while I’m commuting (up to an hour each day), but the number waiting for me in the Moment app next to ‘hours’ at the end of each 24 hours was still pretty exorbitant.
Like many, I often feel like I don’t have enough time.
Between work, my blog, coaching, cooking, exercise, keeping up the house, catching up with friends … you get the picture right?
But then how is it that I can manage 2+ hours a day on my phone?
The conclusion I came to was that I used it for relaxation. When I had a spare minute, or finished a task, or finished up the day, I was scrolling all my feeds.
Again, and again, and again, throughout the day.
What was troubling me even more were the not so acceptable times I was spending time on my phone.
When I had a nice ‘quiet’ weekend planned, the time on my phone skyrocketed, when I could have been doing some of those activities I feel I have no time for.
And even more harmful was the 3am pick up of the phone when I couldn’t get back to sleep - because we all know, a screen is not going to lull you back into a deep slumber.
So what have I been trying and what can you do to cut back on tech time too?
Replace the urge
Picking up devices has really become muscle memory for many of us.
Particularly while away on holiday in Hawaii, I noticed, even when in another country with beautiful views and plenty to see and do, I would still automatically pick up my phone.
While I was there, I made a conscious effort to only look at my phone first thing in the morning and before dinner each night. Since a lot of the holiday involved swimming and relaxing, that left me with a fair bit of spare time. And I filled that spare time with reading.
This is something I’ve carried into regular life and now usually read my book to unwind after work and before bed.
As you can imagine, I am powering through plenty more books these days and although (disclaimer) I do read ebooks on my iPad, I’m actually more relaxed when I’m reading fiction (hello escapism) or non-fiction (learning about new topics) than I am when looking into other people’s lives on social media.
What main activity could you use to replace the urge to pick up your phone?
Create a list of spare time activities
I also began to wonder - what were all those things I wanted to do that I didn’t have enough time for?
They varied from doing more yoga, to decluttering my house, to blogging, to checking in with friends over the phone.
Knowing what I want to prioritise helps me when I do find myself reaching for my phone during a quiet moment.
I’ll do a yoga or pilates video on YouTube, I’ll call a friend or I’ll clear out a drawer that’s been bugging me.
Most of these activities are less than half an hour but usually make me feel much more accomplished and fulfilled than looking up from Instagram Stories for the 10th time wondering why my Sunday afternoon is nearly over.
What are some activities under 30 minutes you could add to your spare time list?
Admit that tech is not evil
This was an interesting learning from cutting back on my time online. It is truly hard to get away from tech day to day.
Life really has surrounded us with devices and apart from a hard copy book there’s not a lot I do at home or work that doesn’t involve tech of some description.
I’m grateful for online resources like books, TV shows, workouts and podcasts, and if they don’t have negative consequences for me, I’m going to go for it.
In what ways is technology creating a positive influence in your life?