Just over a week ago I updated my iPhone to the latest ios. If you’ve done the same, you may have noticed the “screen time” in settings. And it’s safe to say that once you’ve found it, it’s hard to go back.
On “screen time” it tells you how long you’ve spent on your phone a day. It is separated into categories (social media, productivity, creativity, etc.) and also individual apps (messenger, instagram, camera, etc.). It adds up the amount of time you’ve used your phone for over the course of the week, giving you an average, whilst simultaneously making you feel worse about the fact that you’ve spent more time on your phone than actually working. As a result, I felt like I needed to do something.
It may have been a coincidence, but around the time “screen time” was introduced, I was in the middle of reading ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’ by Matt Haig (book review coming), which is centred around the power of social media and how using our phone affects our everyday life to the point that we simply can’t live without them. I also watched a couple of videos on YouTube about people quitting social media too.
You may think I’m about to claim I’ve quit social media too and haven’t used my phone since, but I haven’t gone quite that far. Instead, I thought about how using my phone affects my life and how it mostly prevents me from focusing on my uni work. I often reach for my phone when I’m meant to be working out of boredom, when really that only prolongs the amount of time I’m studying because it takes me longer to complete it. Solution? Study timetable.
So on Monday I sat down and put together a timetable of when I have lectures and seminars, when I have societies/clubs, and then filled in the gaps with study sessions (to a reasonable extent). I decided that during these sessions I would leave my phone at least two metres away from me (so I’d be too lazy to get up to check it) and would only allow myself to look at it briefly if I got up for a toilet break (but to reply to no messages unless they’re urgent).
Surprisingly, it started a lot better than I thought. I wasn’t reaching towards my phone as much already (perhaps because I’d begun it with a very positive and motivated mindset) and I felt really happy that I was getting things done. Of course, I instantly became a lot more tired because of this. I was focusing a lot more and sometimes over-working to an extent, which meant by the end of the afternoon I was already ready for bed.
By Friday, in all honesty, I had started to slack. However, I don’t even feel bad about it; I got a lot of work done this week and I actually feel on top of it for once. Also, it’s important to have breaks too.
I think the study timetable helped a lot to cut down on my phone use. There were some days where it was still pretty high, but actually it was more down to productivity apps than social media so I think that’s okay. At this moment in time, I feel like I use social media for what’s important – to keep in contact with my friends and family back at home and to keep up with uni updates for societies/clubs. There are times when I mindlessly scroll but I’m definitely getting better and stopping myself before it gets too much.
How much time do you spend on your phone? Do you use social media more than you should?