Social media fatigue is hitting hard as makers spend more time trying to “beat the algorithm” to connect with our community. Between our desire to reach our customers online, and the dopamine hit our brains receive each time we check social media, many of us are grappling with bad habits around screen time.
Don’t feel guilty if you’re struggling, too. By design, social media apps are created to hold your attention for as long as possible (in part to serve you more ads). You may have noticed the urge to check email or Instagram while you’re working, cutting into your productivity a few minutes at a time, and distracting you from your big goals for your creative businesses. Many of us want to spend less time on our smartphones, and auditing our screen time is a great place to start.
Last month, I tried out two apps to discover exactly how much time I was spending on my phone. First, I downloaded Moment, an app that measures, in hours and minutes, exactly how much of your day you spend using your smartphone. The app’s creators admit that most people are initially shocked by the audit ⏤ most people underestimate their screen time by about 100%.
I was definitely surprised by what I discovered. After a week of tracking, I averaged 4 hours and 3 minutes on my phone each day ⏤ yikes!! I can make excuses about how I need to use social media and other apps for my business throughout the day, but I know that a good portion of that time isn’t work-related. It’s just mindless scrolling, or worse: procrastinating.
Next, I downloaded Checky, an app that tracks how often you check your phone. This useful second measurement can illuminate whether you’re frittering away time on your phone throughout the day, or if you tend to binge on screen time all at once. For me, the results were clear. During the first week of tracking, I checked my phone around 65-80 times a day, or an average of every 12-15 minutes.
After learning more about my own habits, I’ve decided to take a few steps to curb my screen time, and increase my productivity while I’m in the studio:
- Keep the phone tucked away, rather than out on the table
- Play music from a stereo, rather than using an app
- Set a schedule for social media posts, rather than posting on a whim
- Set a timer when browsing social media
- Turn off push notifications for most social media apps
- Uninstall Facebook from my phone entirely (my biggest time-waster)
- Mealtimes are screen-free
- Use a stopwatch rather than the phone timer
- Changed lock screen wallpaper to an image that says, “Let your mind wander.”
- Posted a list of long-term goals on the wall in my workspace, to remind me what I’m working towards
Moment also offers a premium subscription, which allows you to set hard time limits on your screen time, and offer pop-up reminders about your goals to help influence your decisions. Moment claims that their premium users decrease their screen time by over an hour per day, adding 377 extra hours per year. That’s a lot of extra time to put to use in service of your long-term business or creative goals! Even if you use that time just to daydream, experts agree that idle time can be an incredible source of creativity, which could bring your art to the next level.
It’s tough to make a lifestyle change that sticks, but knowledge is power ⏤ once you know how much time you’re spending on your phone, you can work to re-train your brain and change your habits. What would you do with 377 extra hours this year?
Need a reminder to give your mind some time to wander? Download this smartphone wallpaper. When you glance at your phone out of habit, maybe it will encourage you to put it down and do something more active instead.
To download the wallpaper: Click the link above and it will take you directly to the image. If you are on your phone, you can simply save the image to your phone, and set it as your lock screen wallpaper in the settings area of your phone.
Erin Dollar is an artist, surface pattern designer, and founder of Cotton & Flax, a collection of boldly patterned textile home decor that is designed and manufactured in California. Her work has been sold in 100+ retail shops, from indie boutiques, to large mass-market retailers like West Elm, CB2, and Need Supply. By growing her ecommerce business to accommodate wholesale buyers, she has built a sustainable business that generates income year-round, and built a platform for long-term growth. See her webinar, Wholesale for Craft Business, in our archives.