8 Ways to Put your Phone Down More in 2021
As we enter our third national lockdown in the UK, our screen time has never been higher. I think we’d all agree it’s getting harder and harder to step away from a screen. Ofcom found that during the first lockdown, Brits were spending 40% of their time watching TV and online video, and that’s before working online, or browsing social media. But, this time we’re are not just entering lockdown, we’re also starting a new year. So, here are our tips to help you revamp your screen use and get the most out of this new year!
#1 Turn it off
The first and most obvious tip is – turn it off. It’s easier said than done, each one of us will have fears about being unreachable, even for a short period of time. However, fears like that are almost entirely unfounded. To kickstart a new habit of leaving your phone off for period of time, why not try to turn it off for one hour a day- it’ll be harder than you think- then you can ramp it up.
#2 Leave it at home
An extension of the first tip is to leave your phone behind when you leave the house. Lockdown is actually the perfect time to start this as you have no excuses- you can’t go anywhere other than to shop or exercise anyway! We challenge you to leave your phone behind when you do your weekly shop, write a physical list for a change and go out into the world. It may seem scary or unnerving at first but we lived without up until a decade ago- you can do it!
# 3 Phone-free Zones
Another way to ensure that you don’t bring your phone everywhere, surgically attached to your hand is to enforce physical boundaries. For example, you could ban phones from the dinner table, or your bedroom as we have often recommended. This way, you have to focus on conversation with friends, family or your partner and, as a side benefit, you’ll get much better sleep.
#4 Set time limits
If physical boundaries aren’t working for you, or you just want to take that next step you could now enforce limits around. For example: ‘I won’t go on my phone before breakfast/ after dinner’ or ‘I will reduce my phone use by an hour, through checking the screen time function in settings’.
Optimising your devices to reduce use
We know that putting your phone down can be difficult, especially if you are only relying on human willpower to fight an addictive technology, so we we have some suggestions for optimising your device, to make it easier to reduce your time on it.
#5 Delete apps
Again, we are starting with the obvious: take away the time suckers. You can look through the screen-time feature on smartphones to see which apps you spend the most time on, but it’s likely you already know. Common culprits include social media apps. We’re not saying you have to delete your accounts, but if you delete the app you’ll have to log on to the desktop each time you want to check it- meaning you’ll do it less and less.
#6 Turn off notifications
Another variation on the theme of deleting apps is to turn off your notifications for those time-sucker apps. For example, you could turn off the notifications on your email but leave the red badge on the app so you know how many you have- meaning you will not miss anything but won’t be interrupted in your day. You could employ similar strategies for Facebook Messenger and other social platforms which regularly interrupt your focus and time.
One of the most addictive qualities of our phones is their display. It’s colourful and attractive, so that that our eyes are drawn to the apps which will take up most of our time- all social media platforms have brightly coloured apps don’t they? It might not sound convincing but turn the display to greyscale and soon you’ll notice a difference in your ability to put your phone down.
#8 Reorder your home screen
One of the reasons we end up spending hours longer than intended on our phones, is that our fingers automatically reach for our favourite apps, whether they be games, social medias or anything else. So, our top tip is to regularly rearrange your home screens so that you have to actively look for the apps you want and consciously make the decision to click on them- this small barrier may give you the time to decide to put your phone down. When reordering your home screen, you can also place tools at the front and hide the less useful apps on subsequent screens, to remind yourself of the primary use of the device each time you open it.
We hope that these tips will give you some ideas to help you put your phone down, this lockdown and this year, as we hopefully move towards a life a bit closer to normal in 2021.