I’ve noticed recently that my phone screen time has been creeping up, even though I feel like I’m barely using my phone these days. I’m sure this is quite relatable to most people my age, but my average screen time (on my phone) has been around 4 hours and 20 minutes.
This measurement is a bit flawed, since it considers time that I have my stopwatch or homescreen open, yet I still find it concerning. Time spent on my phone is essentially time permanently lost and wasted.
I don’t really need to use my phone. I don’t gain much from social media, my friends could always wait for me to return my messages at the end of the day, and I don’t think apps like TikTok, Instagram or Facebook are particularly useful for relaxation.
As a result, I’ve decided to make a concerted effort in this coming week to reduce the amount of screen time I clock on my phone. I’ve noticed that I most use my phone when I’m eating or waiting for something. If I go to the gym, I’ll use my phone between sets, and if I’m eating, I tend to default to using my phone and returning messages.
To change this, I was reminded of a principle I first heard about in Atomic Habits (highly recommend). If we want to change our behaviour, we shouldn’t rely on willpower or motivation, but rather make the bad choice impossible to make. The idea is that willpower and motivation are resources that wax and wane over time, and will break if tested enough. In contrast, if we change our environment so that we never have to test our willpower in the first place, we will inevitably succeed.
For my current issue, I’m going to put my phone in a separate room from the moment I wake up. Doing this will mean I won’t have to rely on my willpower to put my phone down if I pick it up, because I’ll never have picked it up in the first place!
If this experiment goes well, I’ll report back with my weekly average screen time in my next newsletter. I’d highly encourage you to try and make a positive behaviour change using this technique!