Technology is a gem for us because it has made our lives much easier than previous eras. However, over-dependency on it is generating a whole new set of challenges. Smartphones have caused a revolution in the lives of millions of people. They are very useful but have disadvantages too. One of the escalating problems is excessive screen time.
Here are some easy tricks to reduce screen time:
1. Quiet down notifications
Every app downloaded on the device sends numerous push notifications for promotion. Most of them are unnecessary and distracting. Go to individual app settings and turn off all such notifications. For example, on YouTube, you get notified every time a new video of the subscribed channel is uploaded. You don’t need to watch all new ones immediately but you will be tempted to do so.
Once YouTube is opened, it is very easy to spend 20 minutes surfing through irrelevant content because of the algorithm. If you keep only the ones that are very important for you, then it will automatically reduce the frequency of opening YouTube and thus, your screen time. You will only consume the content which is essential.
2. Use an alarm clock
Scrolling through the phone late in the night is the most disruptive thing for sleep cycle. After sunset, the body releases melatonin, the sleep reducing hormone. The blue light emission from digital devices confuses the body and the natural flow is restricted. Thus, you stay up late in the night and find it hard to fall asleep.
Wake-up alarm is a widely used utility of the mobile. But the downside is that if you keep the gadget on your bedside, you will be easily lured to check it out. So, use an alarm clock for this purpose and keep aside your phone out of the bedroom at least one hour prior to sleeping. This will prevent untimely exposure to bright light and relax the brain, prepping you up for a good night’s sleep.
3. Set timers
Every phone has options to set timers for different apps. Identify which are the apps that are most addictive and set a daily limit of 1-2 hours depending upon your schedule. This will restrict overuse of these apps and will remind you to turn away from them for the day.
4. Maximize the phone features
Explore through digital well-being options. Select and activate suitable settings. Bedtime is one such feature which will tone down the blue light, brightness of the screen, or do other things to remind you that it is time to keep the device away. It will help you to wind down for the day. So, you can use various functions to your advantage.
The world of social media is designed in a way that you are bound to lose track and wander from one page to other. But if you make a conscious effort, you can cleverly avoid this trap. Recognize the platforms that you tend to open most frequently and notice how you started for one thing but then ended up going through much more than you intended to.
So, the next step is to narrow down on the content that you require to see on a regular basis. Stick to that only and once you are done, come out of it. Only open a platform with a clear intention in mind and do not go beyond it. You need to prioritize what is absolutely essential and what is not, including entertainment.
6. Eat mindfully
Don’t do anything else while eating. Just focus on the amazing meal in front of you. We are prone to overeating when we’re watching TV or playing games. So, take a conscious effort to avoid any gadget during meals.
7. Make things difficult for yourself
It is a rule of thumb that if you want to form a habit, make it easier for yourself to begin that activity. But, if you want to exclude a particular behavior pattern, then reduce its accessibility. If you require technology for work, studies or other chores, try to use a laptop or computer, if you have one, to complete out the essential tasks.
Laptops are less distracting as there are lesser notifications. Also, you need to separately login into each of your accounts to access it. So, you are more likely to just get done with work and switch it off. Don’t keep all your favorite sites on the home screen. Hide them deep inside the menu items or folders, again requiring you to reach out further for them. You will gradually realize that you can easily do away with them.
8. Incorporate a new hobby
Think about the things that you used to do in the past. Playing an instrument, reading books, cooking, gardening could be one of them or pick new ones like yoga or gym. Look out for exciting activities that will keep you engaged. Add at least one interesting task to your day. You will be inclined to spend time in following your hobby because it is way more delightful and fulfilling.
9. Regulate use of social media
Social media is the biggest culprit which makes us spend long hours on the screen. It is key to understand how social media functions and then control its use. Ask yourself, “Why do I need this platform?”, “What value is it adding to my life?”, “Does it give me pleasure, entertainment?”, “What does it take away from me?”
If you think deeply, you’ll realize that most sites end up costing you your time, energy, and health which are more precious than temporary pleasure. Entertainment in limit is refreshing. So, pick your favorites and get rid of the others. Choose wisely which pages, channels, and platforms you want to follow considering what value they add to your life.
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10. Take a 5 min break
Continuous use of screen is very harmful. After every one or two hours of work, you must take a short break. Take a quick walk around the campus or neighborhood. Practice simple stretches or dance! Chair yoga, neck and back stretches will help to relieve the stiff muscles and refresh the brain.
11. Stay away from games
Indulging in even one or two highly addictive games can be dangerous. So, avoid such games. Instead, choose games which sharpen the brain such as puzzles. You can play simple games or family games for fun that don’t hinder your concentration.
12. Stand up!
Sitting is injurious to health. Whenever possible, stand for at least 3-5 minutes and better still, move around. Simply stand at a window. Standing helps in burning calories as well.
13. Maintain a healthy posture
Being aware about your posture is very crucial. Even if you spend less time on screen, but your posture is not good, it can still cause harm. Essentially, the head should be high and the neck should be supported by the spine. So, lengthen your spine while reading this, take a deep breath and sit up tall.
14. Physical activity
A morning exercise routine is proven to be an excellent way to start your day. You can take up any activity of your choice. A morning run, evening walk, yoga, gym, or sports can be really helpful to boost energy and add freshness to every day. Regular physical activity balances the emotions, hormones, thoughts, and psychological needs. It is a concrete source of satisfaction rather than the virtual world.
15. Acquire new skills
Learning is a lifelong process. But to keep learning you need to accept small, manageable but new challenges. Learning a new language, acquiring professional, or recreational skills according to your present needs will not only increase your capability but also give a positive sense of purpose and counter boredom. Thus, you won’t be easily inclined to spend too much time on screens.
16. Positive affirmations
Affirmations like “I am grateful” or “I choose happiness” will reset the mind. Daily repetition of inspiring sentences is the fuel that the mind needs to stay present. The presence of such thoughts keeps the mind stable, focused, and relaxed.
17. Bedtime routine
A mindful bedtime routine is extremely beneficial. The mind and body need some time to relax and unwind. Stay away from stimulating activities like games and TV during late hours of the night. Incorporate soothing music, meditation, journaling, reading a book, or meditating before going to bed.
There are numerous ways to break down the tendency to endlessly scroll on the phone. Trial and error will lead to plans that work for you. Keep experimenting until you find a solid solution. Some mindful measures and clever choices will help you along the way. Maximize the productivity of technology and dodge away its liabilities.
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