A month ago, I said that I wanted to distance myself from social media, my phone and all things technology. When the lockdown came around, I found myself saying that I was the worst clairvoyant and there was no way on Earth or in heaven that I could possibly live without these. This month life came a full circle (rather soon) after my weekly phone report said that my screen time was now averaging 6 hours a day. Wait what! Technically, it still meant I had 18 hours a day to be effective. However, if you take out 8 hours of sleep, 3 hours of cooking, eating, cleaning and mopping, it still left me 7 hours to call my own. However, much like hair ties and bobby pins, hours of day sneak away into nowhere too (mostly work). Hence, the only way to get on to the ‘make the quarantine worthwhile’ bandwagon was to cut down on the hours spent scrolling endlessly on Instagram and watching shoe collections on YouTube.
I learnt that the first step to a digital cleanse is to spend hours on the internet trying to figure the best way to do one. When satisfied that there exists no good advice on the World Wide Web, you turn your attention to the mobile phone. Before the pandemic, my average screen time averaged 3.5 hours. Back then, I was attempting to bring it down to two. Two hours a day, would be a healthy relationship – not too much, nor would my phone feel vastly neglected. Now, given the unusual circumstances, the goal is to move back to the 3.5 hours a day. In order to do this, the first step was to delete all time sucking apps. Out went email, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and, Words with Friends. With these gone, there wasn’t much left that would attract me to my phone. What stayed on my phone was WhatsApp (since it is the most popular form of communication today) and Peek, which is a fantastic game that takes no more than ten minutes a day. You cannot play more unless you decided to throw some money down the drain. I already had downtime functional from 10pm to 5am every day. I pushed that up to 7am.
That done, I had one other device that I needed to address; one that work would force me to stay glued to for hours together. Now I use two browsers. I am actively cutting down on my time with Chrome and redirecting self to Brave. For Chrome, I installed this fabulous extension call StayFocused. After the guilt trip it put me on (see below), I set a 30-minute timer on all social media websites, and other sites I spent time on. I even activated the require challenge button. I haven’t discovered a way to limit sites on Brave but since Chrome is my default browser and I am still transitioning, I have time.
The last thing I did is set alarms and time blocks on my calendar for when I would get away from the internet and devices to find other things to do. With these things in place, I was set.
It has been just a week and surprising things have begun to happen. I get bored, pick up my phone and realize that it can no longer entertain me. My gaze then falls on the book I have been neglecting, the little keyboard I haven’t played in a while and the clothes that need fixing. Suddenly, I am writing more, my house is cleaner; I have read more pages than I have in a long time, and long pending tasks seem to vanish off the to-do list. I also have more ideas than I did.
Clearly this works and per usual, I invite you to join me. Here is my 31-day challenge to you – find your own balance with technology and then shave 20% off. Push yourself into an uncomfortable spot and notice what you do with the extra discretionary time. Then during the hours that you are allowed with your device, maybe come back and tell me what you did.
P.S: If you need more inspiration, look here – https://www.fastcompany.com/3012521/baratunde-thurston-leaves-the-internet