8 A.M. to 8 P.M. Daily—My Experience of 12 Hours of Zero Phone Usage

I’m on my phone a lot. I even think my screen time is impressive— I sleep 8 hours every night, go to around 3 hours worth of classes, spend at least 6-7 hours on homework/work/extracurriculars, and still manage to log 7 hours on my phone throughout the day. It definitely doesn’t add up.

I had a really terrible GPA in my first semester of college. I’d like to say I didn’t choose my classes wisely, but it was more due to my (lack of a) work ethic and being stuck in summer mode. After winter vacation, I knew something had to give. That’s the thing I hate a lot about myself: without a certain amount of pressure and desperation, I’m unable to get going. It’s the part of me that makes me wait to start papers until the night before.

I consulted one of my most disciplined, overachieving, on-top-of-everything friends, who manages doing the most at Northeastern, with a fun social life and time to advise me on my time management issues.

He had already suggested I set a two-hour social networking app limit, which was helping me a lot.

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So when I tried to implement the iPhone’s downtime feature from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and he quickly said they should be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. instead, I (somewhat reluctantly) agreed.

Limiting my Snapchat/Facebook/Pinterest/etc. to 2 hours a day was already hard, considering I spend close to half the entire day on my phone.

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For the first few days, I struggled a lot. My streaks were in jeopardy, I was obsessively staring at my lock screen, and watching other people play on their phones physically hurt me. My classes start pretty late, so it was disheartening to wake up at 8 a.m. and not be able to kill some time on my phone. I even started naturally waking up at 7:30 a.m., without an alarm, probably an unconscious attempt on my part to open some snaps on Snapchat before the day started.

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Within the first week, however, I was feeling so much better. I was on top of my schoolwork— starting assignments the day they were assigned instead of scrambling the night before, feeling energized and refreshed every day, and I had the time to go out more on the weekends, guiltless.

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While I tried really hard at the zero phone usage thing, I did have to make a few exceptions, like opening up Spotify to play a playlist during my walk to classes (a two-second ordeal, so it doesn’t really count) and replying to emails from my professors when I didn’t have my laptop on me.

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All in all, though, it was a really good experience. I amended it a little to bring in “always allowed” apps like Blackboard, Gmail, and FB Messenger, for academic/extracurricular purposes.

I currently have a 4.0 this semester, and there’s no telling what the main factor is, but this is definitely something that helps. After a nice spring break of R&R, I’m ready to get back at it, with my phone’s Downtime feature on again. ​


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