Are you feeling dissatisfied with your screen time? Perhaps you’ve fallen into a bad habit of scrolling too much of your precious time away. I know I did! But I’ve been working to kick the habit and I want share with you why and how I’m doing it.
When I tell people that hubby and I don’t have wi-fi in our apartment their eyes seriously POP. It’s okay, I say, there’s a residents wi-fi room in our building, and we still have data on our phones.
But you can’t stream TV or movies while you’re at home, they go on, how do live? I laugh, honestly it feels like a luxury just to have phone data – when we lived in Zanzibar we couldn’t even get a connection in our house!
At this point their eyebrows generally disappear somewhere into their hairlines. One even asked, so what did you do in your free time… I mean, what were your hobbies?
Sorry but when did scrolling through social media feeds become a legitimate hobby?
When we lived in Zanzibar I spent my free time walking along the beach or through the village, dropping in on people for a chat, swimming, playing netball or beach volleyball, watching football, reading or watching a favourite show on my laptop. Some days I would walk to a place where I could get a data connection on my phone and spend half an hour getting in touch with the rest of the world, but that was it.
And I would have to say that my free time was more truly relaxing for the mind, body and soul than at any other time in my life.
Shortly after moving to Malaysia and having full-time data access, I noticed myself slipping into bad habits when it came to my screen time. I started following more people and pages on Facebook, signed up for Pinterest and started scrolling, and scrolling… on and on and on.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t mindless scrolling – I always sought out insightful content – but eventually I could see that the more I read about the world on social media, the less satisfied I was with MY world. The simple things that truly helped me to relax and refresh like going for a swim, reading a book or doing some yoga were being scrolled away.
So I vowed not to let things get out of hand, and decided to win back my precious free time. Here’s how and why I am doing it:
Set achievable goals and celebrate small wins
I’ve found that aiming straight for the really big goal makes me feel helpless and robs me of my motivation, so I eventually give up. So when it came to cutting down on screen time I knew that I’d first need to work on breaking things down into smaller, achievable goals.
You can do this any way you like – I decided to start by focusing on the times when I felt using my phone was most detrimental to my health and well-being; first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
I used to be one of those annoying people who fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow! I hated that I’d lost the ability to do that since leaving Zanzibar (and gaining internet – do you see the connection?) So my first mini goal was to switch my phone onto aeroplane mode (so that I’m “off the grid” but my alarm will still go off) before I go to bed, and read a book until my eyes droop!
Then in the morning I don’t switch off aeroplane mode until I’ve finished my breakfast. Instead, I try to read a book or focus on what I want to achieve that day. Sometimes I give in and check my phone. I’m learning to be kind to myself and think ‘that’s okay – fresh chance to do it right tomorrow!’
Once you’re into the first routine – celebrate! Yes, it’s a small win, but celebrate it like a big one and you’ll be motivated to keep going.
Check your phone with PURPOSE
I’m very excited about this one because I’m going to make it SUPER easy for you! I’ve got these fantastic lock screens for you to download for FREE! Choose one that speaks to you, set it as your lock screen and boom! every time you pick up your phone you can check your purpose. Either go forth with a specific task in mind or put that phone down and go and do something that you really want to do!
Click on the image you want to download. A new tab will open with full size image. Right click and save. Boo yeah!
It’s okay to let some stuff (or people) go
This can be a tough one, but stick with me here. Sometimes when we do things to improve our own lives, there are people who just don’t get it. They try to convince you that what you’re doing is selfish, inconsequential or impossible. This isn’t easy, particularly when they’re people we thought were friends.
I first signed up for Facebook towards the end of high school. I held off a lot longer than most of my friends because I could already see how it was going to eat up lots of my time. Do you want to know why I signed up? Because I was tired of missing out on party invites. I was convinced that if I just signed up then I’d be out every Saturday night having the time of my life. Of course, I now know that I only missed the parties of people I barely knew! Because real friends tell you in person and send an invite in the mail – but hey, that’s the folly of youth isn’t it?
What I’m trying to say is: If you’re worried cutting down time on screen time will mean that you’ll lose touch with your friends, don’t. If people lose touch with you because you stop replying to their Snaps, they’re not your real friends. Talk to your true friends about your goals and they’ll support you. If you feel like you haven’t been catching up enough in person, tell them, because they’re probably feeling the same way.
Control your narrative
If you’re feeling somewhat (or very) unsatisfied with your screen time, but not really able to pinpoint where this uneasy feeling comes from, it may be due to a loss of control. Let me explain:
The more time you spend on social media, the more it dictates the story of the world to you. When you look up from your screen and interact with your physical community, you regain control of your life’s narrative. Experience the world for yourself and you become the author of your own world view.
Essentially, social media tells us how the world is. Don’t take the internet’s word for it – put down that phone and be free to make up your own mind. It’s the most powerful thing you can do for yourself.
Are you trying to cut down on your screen time too? Let me know how you go! I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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