Managing Screen Time (When You Manage Social Media)

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Is Apple’s new “Screen Time” feature throwing anyone else off? I think it’s a great tool — who among us couldn’t spend less time looking at their screens? — but when social media is a big component of your job it makes it so much harder to draw the line.

I manage the Instagram account for the company I work at and a big part of that is answering questions, responding to comments, and engaging with people. While the chitchat and customer service is a lot of fun, it also sends the time I spend looking at my phone through the roof some days.

But regardless of what the screen time is for, an excess of time spent looking at a screen is objectively unhealthy. Whether it’s for work or leisure, anything I can do to cut those numbers is an improvement. It’s baffling to figure out how to do this in my career field but now that I have a literal graph of how much time I’m spending I’m determined to figure it out.

I’m not sure if this is relatable, but most of the time I spend aimlessly staring at my phone is because I’m feeling bored/lazy. Just got home from stressful errands? Let me sit on the couch and stare at my phone for a few minutes before I unpack the groceries. Don’t feel like getting up to do a chore? Just scroll through Instagram for a minute instead! Rather than something I do because I’m learning or enjoying the time, it’s become a crutch for letting myself procrastinate or self-sabotage — and I hate it.

I’m still in the process of figuring it out, but I have been able to shave a few minutes off each week using these tips:

  • Just Leave It Behind! This is the holy grail of all tips for me. Just by leaving my phone out of reach, I pick it up less — who would’ve known? 🙄 Now when I sit down to read, I leave it on the counter. Getting ready in the morning? Leave it on the charger! I don’t know when I started treating my phone like an extension of my hand, but breaking that habit has made the rest of these steps so much more simple.

  • Keep A Magazine Nearby. Like I said before, most of my aimless scrolling comes from procrastinating or laziness. I want to turn that into productivity but I don’t always want to dive in to whatever book I’m reading at the time. I got a trial subscription to The New Yorker, and making sure I have one of those within reach gives me something to flip through that isn’t my phone. I can read a short feature or part of an article, then get up feeling energized instead of drained.

  • Set Downtime. The downtime feature feels like taking a plunge, but I promise it is worth it. I set it to kick in an hour before I go to bed and end around the time I wake up. This stops any aimless late-night scrolling but if I need to look at something I can disable it for 15 minutes. At first I was worried about having hard and fast rules like this, but I have found it helpful — and I’m asleep for the majority of the time it’s disabled, anyway!

Amanda McDowellComment