Managing my own screen time

When I was a kid I looked at screens too much. Gameboy, Amiga, Mega Drive, PC. My Mum, most concerned about me getting some sleep, put in place some common sense rules to limit it all.

As well as being my Mum, her authority stemmed from the fact that she hardly used screens at all. She was an example to follow.

Fast forward to 2019 and adults are consumed by screens just as much as children are. If they want to retain the kind of moral authority my Mum had — she’s as addicted as everyone else now – something will have to change.

I thought about my own screen time habits after my interview last week and decided there were some common sense things I could do to limit the amount of time I’m using my phone specifically. I thought I’d share what I’ve come up with so far:

  • The first time I’ll look at my phone each day is on my commute to the office
  • To help with this I’ve moved my phone charger from my bedroom to my living room
  • I’m no longer going to bring my phone to the dinner table
  • After 9pm I’m going to put my phone into ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode so only favourited contacts can reach me.

These changes are mainly about improving the time I spend with my family. And setting the kind of example my Mum did. However there are also some changes I’ve made to try and combat the addictive nature of certain services:

  • I only receive notifications from important channels in Slack
  • Messaging and Email have unread counts only, no buzzing
  • I’ve massively reduced the number of home screen apps I have (everything else is in folders on the second screen) to prevent me from opening them unconsciously. I’m sure everyone has experienced a “mobile phone tick” before.

Finally, as I alluded to previously, I’ve long deactivated my Facebook and Instagram accounts and more recently deleted the Twitter app from my phone. Social feeds are particularly pernicious.

These won’t be useful for everyone — we all need to build our own relationships with technology — but hopefully they give you something to think about.

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My name is Dan, I'm a product manager and entrepreneur living and working in London. Check out my blog archive or read more about me.