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9 clever ways to cut down on screen time and get your life back

If you added up all the minutes and hours every day you spend staring at a smartphone, tablet, computer monitor, or television set, you might be shocked. How bad is the problem? Even Apple, which wants people to actually use its devices, has just introduced a new setting for the upcoming iOS 12 that is meant to help you manage your screen use by setting time limits for apps.

We can justify staring at a computer screen as being for work, but smartphones are usually the sneakiest culprit when it comes to screen time. You look up trivia answers during lunch, check your email when you should be going to sleep, and get lost down an internet rabbit hole of videos when you should be finishing up your chores at home.

It’s time to take back your life from your smartphone and other digital devices. Here are nine ways to cut back on your screen time.

1. Recognize your screen use

Before you go about setting rules for yourself, you first have to assess and acknowledge how much time you spend staring at your gadgets. Take a moment to imagine a life with less screen time. Could you get more done at home? Spend more time on hobbies? Engage more with family and friends? Stay focused on how less screen time can help improve your life.

2. Make a no-tech-at-dinner rule

Dinner time used to be all about families gathering around a table and sharing news of their day. Now it’s more likely to involve everyone staring at their smartphones or watching television. Buck the trend and go old school with a no-tech dinner rule. This can encourage family bonding, but even if you’re solo, it can be a great time to reflect on your day or catch up on your book reading.

3. Hide your phone

You may tell yourself you won’t look at your phone, put it in your pocket or tuck it into your purse, and then automatically check it before you think twice. When you commit to screen-free time, set your phone in a drawer or an out-of-the-way place to lessen the temptation to just take a quick peek, which can then turn into many long minutes of screen time.

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4. Delete some apps

What are your biggest smartphone time wasters? It may be the Facebook app and its many attention-getting notifications or a mindless game you turn to when you’re feeling bored. Wipe those apps off your phone. You can still get to Facebook through your phone’s browser when you need to, so you’re not cutting yourself off from your online social network.

5. Move the TV out of the bedroom

It’s too easy to surrender to binge-watching and late-night TV viewing if you have a TV set in your bedroom. Remove the TV from the bedtime equation. If you have young kids, then consider keeping both televisions and family computers out of their bedrooms. As a plus, you can better monitor their TV viewing and online activities and set time limits for screen use.

6. Turn off email push notifications

Ding. Ding. Ding. That’s your phone telling you another email has come in. You obsessively check each and every one. It’s time to turn off those email push notifications. You can be more efficient with your screen time and reduce random interruptions by checking your email in batches instead.

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7. Try out screen-free times

This is a good challenge for a family, but it can be healthy for anyone to schedule a break from your gadgets. You can start with a low-impact time period, like part of a Sunday. Put aside your tech and schedule an activity instead, like a hike or a board game night. Aim to cover at least several hours. You can always build on your success and lengthen the time or even try out an entire screen-free weekend.

8. Set up Do Not Disturb at night

The quality of your sleep is important and you can’t afford to have phone notifications rousing you from your slumber. The easiest way to put a cap on this is to set up Do Not Disturb mode on your phone during your bedtime hours. Read our Komando guide for getting it done.

9. Upgrade to iOS 12

Here’s one to put on your calendar if you have an iPhone. Apple’s new iOS 12 is due out this fall and will have a built-in Screen Time manager that will encourage you to spend less time on your phone. Click here to learn more about the new iOS 12 features.

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