Thursday, February 8, 2018

How an(other) app got me to spend less time on my phone

I got my first smart phone, an iPhone 4, in September 2011.  Two-ish weeks later we went to Miami because Matt had a work conference (and we didn't have a kid and it was super cheap and easy for me to tag along, also, it was Miami in September which was super comfortable).  I remember being amazed at how easy it was to check things on my phone while at the beach and laying out by the pool (which I did A LOT of while Matt was in was lovely).  I had barely had my phone and it sucked me in QUICK.

(Taking this picture which I immediately posted on Instagram.  Also, I still own and wear those flip-flops.  )

Fast forward many years.  I know very few adults (or even teens) without a smartphone.  They are ubiquitous.  We can all check all the things, all the time.  I've ranted many times about seeing people on their phones while at social occasions.  It's right up with not recycling as one of my favorite rants.  (For the record, I am VERY pro-recycling and have yelled at people, almost always people I know, for throwing recyclable items in the garbage.  Basically, I'm super fun to hang out with.).

Now I am really trying to spend less time on my phone, pick it up less, have it interrupt my day less.  Just, LESS.

I've written about this before: {7} Ways to Spend Less Time on Your Phone and Weaning Myself off Social Media.  I still follow those.

But I was still on my phone too much.

We all know they aren't super great.  There are plenty of studies.  I'm not linking to any but google and you'll get a lot of options.  Our phones get us addicted, to being connected, to social media, to responding to all the bells and whistles.

I heard this app, Moment, mentioned multiple times and how it helped you spend less time on your phone.  I thought I had that pretty well under control but after reading about it many places I downloaded it.  I keep it running in the background and it tracks how much screen time I have each day.

It was WAY more than I was expecting.

I've been tracking since November and at first I didn't change my habits, just let it record.  I was around 3.5 hours a day.


On any given day that could be 20 minutes on the "home and lock screen" which doesn't entirely count because that's usually my phone flashing awake at a text message and then at the reminder message.  Or me just checking the time.

But still.

I didn't realize how much time I spent on my phone until I started tracking it.  Or how often I pick it up (average: 56 times a day but the weekends really bring that down.  Probably closer to 80 times on weekdays).  Usually not for real long, but picking up, spending a few minutes, putting it back down.  On repeat.  All day.

So I started working down. 

Since January 1st, I've been right about 2 hours on weekdays and about an hour on weekends.  I'm working on reducing both of those by 15 minutes, and then maybe more still.  As the app tells me, that's an average of 10% of my waking hours!

A few ways I've reduced:

1) Turn off (almost) all alerts.
And I mean nearly all.  I get alerts for phone calls, Facetime, and texts from certain (8) people.  Anything else and my phone doesn't make a noise. If I'm not looking at it I will miss texts until I'm picking up my phone again anyways.  And you know what, it's fine.  (I've never had notification for anything on social media.  I have no need  to get an alert every time someone likes a picture or whatever, that is so pointless.)

2) Stick to my social media check schedule
As I wrote about here.  I've moved a few things around as I've changed my computer schedule (spending more time on it at quiet time but rarely in the evenings) but I stick to this mostly as written.  I'm not scrolling Instagram while in the grocery checkout line (also because I usually have Luke with me and he's pretty chatty).

3) Try not to pick it up unless I have at least two reasons
I try to respond to texts from Matt right away (or as soon as possible) or sometimes there is just something I "need" to do.  But I don't pick it up to log my water consumption unless I'm picking it up for another reason too.  I rarely shop on my phone, no more browsing Target online because I "need" a basket.  If it is important, I'll remember to do it later.

You guys, I am FAR from perfect with this.  SO FAR.  But I have reduced the time spent on my phone by over 40%, trying to get it even lower.  I don't want this little device to be where I spend all my time.  I want to control it, not let it control me.

And blah blah blah.  I know.  But downloading this app, has really helped me out.  Waaaaay more than I expected.  Nothing like checking my time to realize, holy crap, I have spent a lot of time on my phone already this morning.  HOW?!?!?

(From what I can tell, the app doesn't add minutes for time spent actually talking on the phone or doing Facetime.  But for all other screentime, as long as the app is running.)

(Also, this doesn't account for the time I spend on my computer, but I try to keep that mostly to "work": blogging, planning vacations, budgeting, tax prep, organizing pictures, photobooks, etc.)

Have you tried Moment?  What other tips do you have for reducing time on your phone (other than tossing the whole thing, which is honestly tempting once in awhile.)?

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