“Digital wellbeing” is the latest trend in technology, with even tech giants like Apple and Google implementing new techniques and designing new apps to help you improve your digital wellbeing (which usually just means “Reduce your screen time.”).
Their attempts aren’t exactly revolutionary, but not everyone wants a revolutionary solution, sometimes you just want to cut down on the amount of time you spend looking at your phone.
Maybe you want to save time; maybe you want to give your eyes a rest; maybe you feel like your mental health is being affected by all the time spent on social media. No matter your motivation, here are some super simple things you can do in less than five minutes, to improve your digital wellbeing.
1. Download a free app
That’s right, your phone can be used to help you use your phone less. It sounds counterintuitive, but the goal here isn’t a 100% digital detox. There are a lot of tools available for you in the App store or Google Play, depending on what you want to do (or not do).
I want to know how much time I spend on my phone...do I even have a problem? Both Apple and Android phones now have built-in trackers that will show you all the dirty details of your phone usage. You can take it a step further with the free app Moment, which tracks your time a little differently from Screen Time, Apple’s built-in tracker.
All three apps are customizable, allowing you to set limits on notifications, apps, screen time, and more. You can find out how much time you spend and then take steps to reduce it.
I want to be more focused throughout the day. Reducing your screen time with the above-mentioned apps is a great starting point, but there are free apps specifically for improving your focus as well.
Forest is a free app that uses gamification to encourage you to stay focused on your task, whether it’s work or dinner with the family. Plant a tree in the app, and it will grow while you finish your task. If you lose focus and close the app to use your phone, the tree dies. Growing trees gets you coins, which you can spend in the app to plant up to five real trees somewhere on Earth.
Sentien Launcher (yes, that Sentien) is a free app for Android designed to help you focus. Thanks to its minimalist interface, you aren’t constantly stuck swiping through pages of apps on the homescreen looking for something to open and distract yourself with. Instead, use the lightning fast smart search to type in what you’re looking for (apps, web searches, contacts, and more). Get what you need quickly and efficiently so you can stay focused on what you’re doing instead of aimlessly opening and scrolling through apps you don’t need.
2. Use airplane mode
Here’s a simple solution to the overwhelming flood of notifications arriving in the middle of your lunch date: turn on airplane mode.
Are notifications really so bad? It depends. Some notifications can be more distracting than others, and those distractions can cost you both time and peace of mind. According to one study done at the University of California, Irvine by Gloria Mark, it can take an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus on a task after being distracted. Plus, people who lost focus tended to finish the task with greater speed and mental stress.
Give yourself a break from your inbox and focus on what’s in front of you by turning on airplane mode. No download required.
3. Change the display settings on your phone
Plenty of articles will tout grayscale as a solution to phone addiction, but it’s not quite as potent as all that. This tip will help you stay off of games and social media apps, since the bright colors and images are designed to keep you hooked. On the other hand, grayscale is in no way better for your eyes since it does nothing to filter out blue light.
If you want a solution to eye strain, then you can change the settings on your phone’s display. Android lets you use a blue light filter or change the color temperature, and iPhones let you dim the white point or change the color tint, among other things.
Although technology is hugely important to our daily lives, using it can have negative effects on our digital wellbeing like wasted time, lost focus, and increased stress. The goal isn’t to stop using smartphones, the goal is to find ways to use them efficiently, conveniently, and even naturally. Give these tips a try and see how it affects your digital wellbeing. You might be surprised at what a difference even the smallest adjustment can make.