Ways I'm Cutting Down on My Screen Time

by - January 24, 2019

One of my goals for this year is to get a better handle on how much time I spend staring at a screen. It's no easy task considering my job is almost 100% computer based. To make matters a little more complicated, I just bought a new tablet because my other one was seven years old and moving too slow to be useful. But I'm still determined to cut back on my screen time and have a plan...sort of.

Last year, I talked about how we do screen time for Alexis, which caused me to take a hard look at my own habits, and they weren't good. I touched on it in last week's post about three habits I've kicked since changing jobs, specifically obsessively checking email and always having my phone in my hand. In this post, I'll talk about some specific ways I'm limiting my time in front of a screen.

One of the best things about changing career paths was the flexibility of the job. Now I don't have to rush through a lunch. In fact, I'm committed to taking an hour-long lunch break (or longer depending on the day). During that break, I have my phone with me but unless I'm waiting on someone to contact me, it stays in my bag.

Speaking of meals, I've instituted a phone-free policy for myself. Used to, my phone would be on the table or within reach on the bar. Now, instead of constantly glancing down or over to see if I have any notifications, I converse with my husband and daughter or whoever else I'm eating with.

Another perk of being my own boss (mostly) is that I make my own hours. On a typical day, I get up from my computer and go downstairs to do a little housework around 3:00 p.m. I do still check my email from my phone through 5:00 p.m., or a little later if it's the day before press and I'm waiting on last-minute stuff to come in from advertisers. I can't even begin to tell you the difference this has made in my life.

I've had an e-reader tablet since 2012. Recently it started having problems connecting to any charger and had gotten so slow the only thing it was good for was reading, although it could take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to download a book. I just replaced it with a new Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet (I needed something to take with me on days I'm out of the office that would be easier to do email with than my phone). All my previously downloaded e-books transferred over and because I'm a Prime member I get to take advantage of Prime Reading (which I highly recommend). With that being said, I am trying to incorporate more real books into my routine. Part of the reason behind this is that Alexis doesn't distinguish playing on my tablet from reading on my tablet. To her, it's all the same thing. So we've started making more frequent trips to the library - Alexis loves to go pick out new books. I'm particularly loving the Isaac Bell detective books by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott.

That brings me to the final thing I'm doing to cut down on screen time. At least 30 minutes before bed, I put my phone away, turn off my tablet, and/or shut down my computer. Instead of playing a mindless game or scrolling aimlessly through social media, I read or catch up on the shows I didn't get to watch last week. Since I've started doing this, I fall asleep more easily and am generally in a better mood.

How do you keep your screen time under control?

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  1. Hi, Ashton!

    You are making wise, common sense adjustments to reduce your screen time, dear friend. If the measures are too drastic, you will feel deprived, out of the loop, and will be more likely to abandon your new plan. If you cut out a little here and a little there, the process is relatively painless, yet it adds up to a significant amount of time saved for other activities. My four grandchildren constantly have their heads bowed looking into their phones. They bring the devices with them to the dinner table and continue to check their accounts, text and browse. It is very rude. They are not learning the art of conducting a face to face conversation. My generation didn't have smart phones and computers, and so it does not bother me one bit to leave my phone in another room for hours on end. I never even give it a thought. I am so glad you are teaching Alexis the joy of reading real books from the library. No electronic screen can offer the satisfaction of holding an actual book in your hands, savoring its aroma, feeling its weight and mass and the texture of the pages, and listening to the comforting sound the pages make as you turn them. It is trance inducing - a learning trance - an experience that should not be allowed to become extinct.

    This is a useful post, Ashton, and I thank you for these tips. Have a great week!