My phone pinged. The message read ‘Sorry!!! I only just got this – I lost my phone!’.
This is a fairly typical reply from my friend. Days pass without her responding to messages and she replies to Facebook tags and posts in bulk about twice a year. It’s outstanding.
She genuinely just doesn’t care about social media. She cares about keeping in touch with her friends and family but she’s so busy living life that she frequently loses her phone because it’s not attached her hand 24/7. Many years ago I called her from my car and was shocked when her phone rang – it was in my car. Where she’d left it 2 days ago. I randomly saw her walking past my house and I yelled out that I had her phone and she goes ‘Oh cool! I was wondering where that was!’ and then said she was off to her drum lesson and she’d swing by and pick it up on her way home later. Then she forgot and I had to take it to her the next day. What sorcery is this?
This friend frequently but inadvertently reminds me to turn the spotlight on my own screen time habits and slowly but surely I’ve been making adjustments to how much time I spend on my phone.
Question… how much time do you spend on your phone in a day? In a week?
Warning – I’m about to ruin your day. But I fully intend on saving it again so bear with me.
If you have an iPhone, kindly follow these instructions. First, you need to turn on screen time.
Turn on Screen Time
- Go to Settings > Screen Time.
- Tap Turn On Screen Time.
- Tap Continue.
Then wait a week and check it like this.
Check Screen Time
- Go to Settings > Screen Time.
- Tap See All Activity under the graph.
The first time I did this I had clocked something stupid like 7 hours of screen time on my phone in a single day. That’s the equivalent of an entire workday AND it was also an actual workday so I had somehow managed to work for 7 hours and dick around on my phone for 7 hours. What an epic waste of time. The thing that was really creepy about it was that I had no idea what I had actually DONE during those 7 hours. I didn’t feel smarter, in fact, I felt really stressed out because according to the internet the world is doomed and we’re all going to die. I would have much preferred to have spent that time doing literally ANYTHING else. So how did I let 7 whole hours slip away from me?
It’s actually very typical behavior. The average Australian spends 7 hours a day on their phone and most of that time is spent on social media.
Isn’t that mind-blowing? Like what are we actually doing on there?
A few points before we continue.
- The Internet is AMAZING. I freaking love the internet. It allows me to do work I love without leaving my house. The random drawer of veggies in my fridge can be turned into a gourmet meal with a simple recipe search. Sleepless nights are saved when I can google things like ‘Did Cameron Diaz and Snoop Dog really go to high school together?’. My nanna crafts run super smoothly because I can search for weird terms in crochet patterns and find a full video of some angel lady in Scotland explaining exactly how to do the thing I need to do. The Internet is my Beyonce.
- The Internet is my job. As much as I’d love to totally unplug (like my rad mate down the street – she doesn’t even internet at her house – hardcore) it’s just not a viable option for me and for most people.
- If you want to spend 7 hours a day on social media and you enjoy it and it lights you up inside that’s perfectly fine.
With that out of the way here’s where I was at with my internet use.
- Since having my daughter a year and a half ago I had already cut down significantly on my phone use. I really hate using my phone in front of her. I’m pretty good at not looking at it when she’s around BUT I’m low key obsessed with her so I love filming her and taking photos of her which usually ended up with me ‘checking’ Facebook and Instagram.
- I’ve been removing Facebook and Instagram every afternoon at 4pm and I only re-install it on workdays – Mon to Fri – I tend to keep it uninstalled over the weekends.
- HOWEVER, I found myself using Safari on my phone to get to Facebook (it’s addictive man!) so that’s when I did the thing that has changed my life.
I removed Safari from my phone.
Here’s how to do it.
- Go to Settings from your iOS Home screen
- Tap General
- Tap Restrictions to toggle it on
- You will be able to further access Restrictions once you enter the 4-digit passcode
- Under the Allow section, tap on Safari to Disable
- Once done, you won’t be seeing Safari on your Home screen anymore
It’s the single best productivity decision I’ve made. Here’s what’s changed for me.
- I no longer wake up in the morning and spend the first 20 minutes of the day on social media. If I want to read something in bed (if I wake up before my kid does) I look at Feedly and read actual blog posts – so much better than 30 or 40 tiny snippets of nothing that I barely even look at on Instagram or Facebook.
- When I sit on the couch when my kid is playing nearby, I don’t scroll on my phone. I read a book. Often this results in my daughter getting her own book and asking me to read to her which, no shit, I would do for hours. It’s my favourite thing. If she continues to play independently (awesome!) I’m sitting there reading a book instead of having my face buried in my phone.
- I don’t waste my evenings on Instagram and Facebook – and if I grab my phone there’s nothing to do on it anyway. I spend my evenings crocheting, writing, reading, sewing… with the TV or a podcast on in the background but without the distraction of my phone.
- I can still text my friends and family, look up how to do something on YouTube and use my maps on my phone.
- If I need the internet outside of work hours, I go to my computer. This creates an excellent barrier because my office is upstairs so I have to REALLY care to walk upstairs and most of the time I don’t care that much.
- I don’t check my email or bury my face in my phone when I’m in the car waiting for Ben to grab something from the shops. I just sit there if I’m alone or I chat and sing to my daughter if she’s in the car too.
- I don’t scroll through Facebook or Instagram or check my email in the mornings when my kid is eating breakfast – we listen to ABC kids and chat.
And to be honest, my phone use wasn’t THAT terrible to begin with. I often leave the house without my phone and I actively try to leave it in inconvenient places when I’m spending time with my family. The habit I was trying to break was the flop and scroll. When I finished doing whatever I was doing I would grab my phone and flop on the couch. Even if I only scrolled for 15 minutes, if I did that 4 times a day, that’s an hour.
In conclusion –
- If you’re happy with your phone habits, disregard this blog post.
- If you’re not happy, try deleting your apps and ditching Safari.
Safari has been off my phone permanently for a week and I won’t be putting it back on.
Also, this week’s episode of Straight and Curly is now live – How to Communicate Effectively With Your Partner, Friends and Family.