How to Seriously Cut Back on Your Screen Time

Do you ever go through periods of time where you feel like you seriously need to take care of yourself, ASAP? I recently had one of those weeks.

Last week, I had too much going on. I, admittedly, overcommitted myself to too much work, too many blog projects, too many social events, and didn't think it all through. By Monday night, I had a pulsing pressure behind my eyes, had to visit the eye doctor immediately, and found out I had most likely sprained my eyes from too much screen time. Yes, seriously.

The first thought that went through my mind when the eye doctor was telling me there was no other explanation other than too much exposure to screens was, "Well, there's nothing I can do about that." Seriously: my first instinct was, "That's impossible!", when it should have been, "I'll do anything to take care of myself!" That's how addicted we are to screens.

What to do when you can't do anything about it

I have a job, like many of you, that requires me to be on my screen 90% of my day, if not more. From Instagramming on my phone to constantly checking my emails and working on different projects, my eyes are fairly glued to all different screens from morning until night. As my eye doctor explained, these are parts of our job that we can't really help or do anything about.

But while my job description may not change, my behavior at work can. Some things I'm trying to do throughout the day to take little screen breaks include things like eating lunch away from my desk, taking walks throughout the day, and having "no laptop" meetings where I'm brainstorming or planning the old fashioned way—on a whiteboard.

How to cut back when you're at home

In addition to controlling your behavior at work, you can also control how much you stare at screens in the morning and at night. Just imagine a world where instead of reaching for your phone first thing in the morning, you spent even five minutes waking up in silence, with no distractions, and meditating or enjoying the person next to you before the madness begins.

Here are some ways you can cut back on screen time:

  1. Dock your phone at a charging station. Out of sight, out of mind! Sounds cliché, but in this case it's true. You always think "I can't live without my phone by my side!", until you do. I've started leaving my phone by the front door, heading inside and starting to cook dinner / catch up on the day with Josh, and I'll go hours sometimes without even realizing where I left my phone.
  2. Turn off push notifications. Recently, I went through the Settings on my phone and edited all of the Push Notifications I get. It was only when I took a few minutes to do this that I realized how meaningless most of the notifications I had set up are. Most of them cause distraction, but don't actually provide value. Now, I only have a few notifications set up for things that I would actually be upset I missed.
  3. Turn on "Do Not Disturb". If you have an iPhone, you can actually pre-set Do Not Disturb to go on at a certain time each night, and last through the morning. Doing things like this where you don't even have to think about setting the boundaries—they're already set for you—go a long way in cutting back on your screen time.
  4. Surround yourself with "good distractions". It can be tempting to turn on the TV, grab that laptop, or jump on a tablet if they're the only things sitting around. Walk around your apartment and, in every place you find a device, replace it with a good distraction. A book, for example, or a journal + pen.
  5. Do more of the things you love! Make a list of the things you loved before devices were in the picture. I love cooking a big meal, taking a walk around the neighborhood, or laying on the ground listening to a record on our player. Make it a goal to have one night a week just filled with those things that you love!

What are some of your favorite ways to cut back on screen time?