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6 ways to control your screen time

Screens can be a nightmare for your sleep, concentration, and mental health—they’re also super addictive. These tips and tricks will help you manage your screen time more effectively.

Do you feel a little panicked when you can’t feel your phone in your pocket? Like you’re missing a limb if you leave the house without it? With so much of our work, social and entertainment on our screens, 50% of UK adults now have over 11 hours screen time a day.
We know not all screen time is bad, but it's important to take time away from your screens and reconnect with the physical world. Spending too much time in front of a screen can cause sleep problems, poor concentration, and even weight gain. These simple changes can help you manage your screen time, and help you better your relationship with technology.
 
In a snapshot

1. Take regular tech-free breaks

Screens are also hugely addictive. Which can make it difficult to switch them off, and switch yourself back on. That's why it's important to step away from the laptop and phone for at least an hour every day.
Use this time to do something that's not digital. Read a book, go for a stroll, or do some mindless washing up. It can also help to set yourself some rules around screen time, such as only checking your phone between certain hours of the day.
 
Swap scrolling for reading or walking during the day (Credit: Rebecca Hope)
Swap scrolling for reading or walking during the day (Credit: Rebecca Hope)
I'm committing to being better starting this week. No notifications were already on for years and I'm still bad. So now, I can only check my phone 3 times a day. Between 9 and 10. 1 to 2. And 7 till 8. - Dan Murray-Serter, Founder of Heights

2. Set no phone zones

The mere presence of your phone reduces your available cognitive function - it’s distracting and tempting to scroll. Hello high screen time. If you struggle to focus at work, remove your phone from your workspace. Pop it in a cupboard, drawer or another room. The act of getting up and fetching the phone will ensure that even if you slip up, you won't be checking it nearly as often.
Phones also interrupt our social interactions and mealtimes. Causing a fall in human connection and being present in the moment. It can also cause mindless eating.
The easiest wins are removing your phone from:
  • Your desk or workspace
  • Dinner table
  • Bedroom
 

3. Set time limits your phone

This might sound counter-productive, but your phone can actually help you build a better relationship with it. iPhone (or apps such as Digital Wellbeing) have developed settings to help you set limits on your phone usage. They also provide a breakdown of the apps that you’re using the most to help you set limits and reduce your screen time.
App Limits on iPhone:
> Settings > Screen time > App Limits > Choose and set app limits
Downtime on iPhone:
> Settings > Screen time > Downtime > Set downtime hours
Limiting notifications can be nerve-wracking. What if you miss something? But the truth is things don’t move that fast—you'll catch up. Your brain needs the break much more than you need the hit of dopamine.
 
Use your phone to help you monitor and reduce your screen time
Use your phone to help you monitor and reduce your screen time

4. Remove your phone from your bedtime routine

Bedtime is a time to unwind and disconnect. Yet many of us use that time to watch TV or scroll TikTok, which isn’t good for our brains or our screen time. Having a screen-free zone in your bedroom can make it easier to resist the temptation of scrolling through social media or checking emails at night or first thing in the morning. Replace screens with reading, listening to a podcast or calming music to reduce your screen time.
We recommend removing your phone entirely from your bedroom and replace your phone alarm with an alarm clock such as a Lumie.
If the thought of your phone being in another room is a little anxiety inducing for you, then try setting sleep hours on your phone. This will mute notifications and lock your home screen from the time you set as your ‘Bedtime’.
On iPhone
> Health > Sleep > Schedule or Wind Down

5. Turn off notifications

Limiting notifications isn't just about reducing your screen time, but also about increasing your focus and being more present. You can use your phone or laptop to turn off notifications temporarily or more permanently.
  • Turn on ‘Focus Mode’ in the top right of your Mac navigation bar
  • Hit Do Not Disturb on your iPhone to limit notifications temporarily
  • Use settings to mute all notifications from certain apps ( >Settings >Notifications > Choose apps)
  • Add focus time and tech-free breaks to your calendar to let colleagues know
  • Turn on focus mode on Slack
 
Every wondered how much of the rest of your life you’ll spend on your screens? Use our Lifetime in Screen Time Calculator >

6. Change your unwinding habits

Stress is a contributing factor to screen time and can equally cause it through social media or work emails. When we feel stressed out or overwhelmed, many of us seek comfort in video games, social media, or Netflix. It helps many of us unwind but it can leak into becoming an addictive habit where we become less conscious of how much time we spend on screens.
Managing stress means being proactive about finding ways to decompress and unwind throughout the day. When you have an overwhelming amount of work or feeling a little stressed, try experimenting with tech-free activities. We recommend exercise, meditation, reading or going for a walk in nature.
 
Take 3 days off grid to reset your relationship with your phone
Take 3 days off grid to reset your relationship with your phone
 
Screen time can be joyful, fun, and entertaining—it also gives you the chance to connect with others. However, like everything, you can have too much of good thing. Why not go the whole hog and find a space where unplugging and unwinding is actively encouraged? Unplugged cabins offer you the chance to ditch your screens surrounded by beautiful countryside—learn more here.