What I Learned From a 7-Day Screen-Time Challenge

The call of a challenge is strong, and I am definitely one to respond with, “I’m IN!” if only to mix it up.

One (of the many) things I love about my Mindful Social Club membership is that fun little challenges will pop up from time to time, always in a super organic way. When one member took an Instagram hiatus, it prompted a 7-day challenge to reduce our overall screen time.

Now, I’ve hacked away at my social media use over the last few months, but I wasn’t proud of how often I grabbed my phone. This was the perfect opportunity to learn some new habits!

Read This: How to Cut Your Social Media Use by 75% For Good

Here are my biggest takeaways from the challenge:

Setting a specigic goal is crucial

Before the challenge started we were asked what our #1 goal was that we wanted to achieve after 7-days. This is crucial for any challenge you sign up for, but it’s also key for long-term goals. Mine was that I wanted to be off my phone when not necessary so I translated that more tangibly to “fewer pick-ups”. Whether you are planning to do an intense challenge, or you simply want to change your phone habits, set 1-2 specific goals. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get lost in the ambiguity of a goal like “being on my phone less”.

Rules help me (at least to get started)

To break the habit of picking up my phone and checking it throughout the day, I needed specific rules that were clear to enforce. The two that became apparent on day one was to not check my phone while walking the dog (or out on walks in general), and not using it while in the car. I was fine with listening to music or a podcast so looking at it to pick what I wanted to listen to next or change the playlist was fair game.

Read This: How to Change a Habit in 4 Steps!

Also, I want to be clear I wasn’t just driving around town (with my kid in the car) browsing Facebook and checking mail! My phone is usually on the little magnetic holder for when I need it for directions and I found myself reaching for it whenever we were stopped at a light which really adds up. Another one was not being on my phone while in bed.

Pick 1-3 obvious situations that you could make a no-phone rule. Maybe it’s while you’re watching TV, or out to eat, or when waiting in line. If you have many, start with the easiest one to break and go from there.

Tactics make it easier

Habits are ingrained in our brains and it’s not always easy to break that connection. Make it less of a struggle by using simple tactics that create a barrier to your phone use.

For me, I started putting my phone in my purse instead of the magnetic thing (is there a name for these?!) if I wasn’t using it for directions. I also left it out of reach when watching shows with my husband. There are tons of little things you can try! Here are a few:

Put your phone on airplane mode for chunks of your day.
Delete or hide any apps you want to cut down on for the weekend or a set time-frame.
Sign out of non-essential apps.
Leave your phone at home or in the car for quick outings.

Ask yourself this question

I often feel the urge to just “check something real quick”. This was not conducive to my goal of fewer pick-ups so I came up with a simple question that is still working for me weeks later.

Do I need this information right now?

Sometimes I did. I was meeting with a friend for coffee later in the day and did need to check that she had the right address and that I had the right time we agreed on. But, more often I did not. I did not need to check if Christmas fell on a weekend or weekday because I was not going to do anything with that information while waiting for my coffee to be done. In this instance, I would check on that when I was ready to text my sister-in-law to make travel plans.

There are SO many times we check on things that we simply do not need to. If I am ready to act on the information I am looking up, or if it is time-sensitive, then I check. If not, then I wait until that moment arises. This cuts down on a TON of phone use by eliminating lots of small check-ins.

If you’re reading this, you’re clearly interested in using your phone less. You can either gradually implement these concepts OR start your own challenge! Challenge a friend or your spouse and be sure to check your screen time use before and after to determine a winner because what is more motivation than that of winning, right?

Being off your phone is synonymous with being present. This is exactly what I help my clients with, especially when it’s more challenging than simply being on your phone less. If you’re striving to find more presence in your life, I can help you. Click below and let’s chat!

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