4 Ways I'm Reducing My Screen Time And Why
A few weeks ago, I set myself an unofficial challenge.
My goal is to eat healthier and exercise at least five times a week. It's been going well, better than I expected actually! While I'm not tracking my weight, I have been tracking how I feel, my energy levels and a few measurements and, no surprise, I've definitely been happier and more energized. But, there's been another, unexpected outcome from all of this.
I'm meeting more people at work! The reason? I've been bringing my lunch to work. Rather than eating out every day, I've been meal prepping at home and bringing my lunch in at least 3 times a week. There's typically a lineup for the microwave or toaster and so I wind up having chats with people as we wait for our turn. And the chats aren't about work. We've talked about books we're reading, podcasts we're listening to and where we went on vacation last.
One topic that keeps coming up, is our common struggle of how to disconnect and unwind. I work in the software industry and am fairly active on social just like many of my colleagues. It's not uncommon for me to spend an hour or more scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, in an endless cycle when I get home. It keeps me from doing other things with my time and reaching other goals like reading more or practising a new skill I'm trying to pick up. I wind up feeling frustrated with myself, promise I'll do better tomorrow, and then just start the cycle over again.
I'm not trying to do away with screen time after work entirely but instead be more conscious of the time I spend online.
Here are a few things I've been focussing on lately that have been helping.
1. Set a Timer
When I get home, I give myself about 30 minutes to unwind before I get dinner going, and I set myself a timer to let me know when those 30 minutes are up. At first I was using my phone for this, but I found it was too easy to dismiss the timer with the swipe of a finger so now I use my Google Home to remind me that I need to start making dinner. You could also use a manual timer, the kind you might use for baking.
2. Body Language
Pay attention to your posture. Are you slouching forward, shoulders hunched, mouth hanging open?! That's basically what I end up looking like after I've been sitting on my arse for the better part of an hour heading down the rabbit hole on YouTube! I try to stay conscious of my body and if I notice myself hunching over, that's usually a good clue that I should put my phone down.
3. No Phone Zones
This doesn't just apply to phones, but laptops and tablets too. I live in a studio apartment, so my bed is also my couch. I have a coffee table that raises to table height so I can eat in bed as well. It's can be a problem. Now, I'm trying to be more mindful of how I use my space. I have a kitchen island with stools, so rather than eat at the coffee table and scroll through my phone, I sit at the table. I also have a built-in desk in my hallway so when I do want to browse online, I try and use that space rather than getting under the covers of my bed/couch where I'm likely to stay much longer.
I realized that outside of going to my yoga class a few times a week, I didn't really have any hobbies that I was excited enough about to break my social addiction. I needed something that I looked forward to doing when I got home that kept me from mindlessly browsing online. I love baking, but it's not the best hobby to have when you're trying to eat healthier. So I joined a book club. I've always loved reading but was finding that I wasn't making time for it. Being in the book club holds me accountable, and choosing books that I'm excited to read keeps me interested so I look forward to picking up the story every day. I'm already on my ninth book this year - last year I don't think I read nine books in total!
I still love spending part of my evening unwinding online, but I'm happy that I'm being more mindful and aware now than I was before.
If you've made it to the end of this post (it was a longer one than I anticipated!), this is your reminder to schedule some device-free time