I’m not the kind of person that is addicted to their phone per say; however, I would consider my past self a serial-scroller. Like many people, it is not what is on my phone that draws me to it, it’s boredom that increases my screen time. It is during breaks between classes where the time seemingly flies by, while I delve into the depths of Instagram, only to find that hours of my day were unproductive.
Whether you find your serial-scrolling habits to be a negative influence on your mental health, or simply wish to redirect that lost time into productivity, this article is here to share with you the one thing that helped me reduce my screen time significantly.
Look, I’ve tried it all to no avail. Deleting Instagram, only to find it creeping back onto my home screen a day later. Setting screen time limits in settings, only to override it when the limit is up. The problem with these common screen time reduction strategies is that they remove the problem, but without replacing the habit.
For a serial-scroller, it is the habit of going on your phone that increases your screen time. Essentially, you’re filling blank time in your day by looking at a never-ending supply of pictures and videos.
As such, the one thing that helped me significantly reduce my screen time was replacing my habit of serial-scrolling with other habits that made better use of my time and that I still enjoyed.
So how do you replace this habit? First, identify the times which you spend the most time on your phone. For many people (including myself), this would be in the morning, at lunch and at night. All of which are large gaps of time, where there is not much to do other than wait until class or bedtime.
Once these times are identified, you must find a new task that isn’t serial-scrolling which you would like to replace your habit with. By identifying and implementing a new task during that time of day, you can work towards making it a new habit. For myself, I replaced serial scrolling in the morning with reading the news. At lunch, I do my readings for class. At night, I started reading for pleasure. Yes, it’s a lot of reading, so if you aren’t a huge reader, just identify something else that is productive that you would rather do over serial-scrolling.
Remember that being perfect should never be the goal, and building habits takes a long time. Reading the news in the morning feels strange when it is not built into your routine; however, it will become a habit over time.
As a final note, remember to not force yourself to do anything you don’t like to do. Replacing your habits should be enjoyable!