13 Ways To Limit Screen Time (And Enjoy Life)

Looking for ways to limit screen time? Maybe you’ve found yourself watching so much tv that nothing catches your eye anymore? Or, you’ve gone down the rabbit hole of spending too much unproductive time on Facebook?

One of the biggest time wasters for many of my friends is the time spent on their iPhones playing games, shopping, and interacting on social media. While it’s easy to kill time, you might walk away not feeling great about your use of time.

Well, have a read through this article and you can take action steps to limit your screen time. Ready? Let’s begin.

Limiting time on screens

Here are some practical tips to help you cut back on that glut of TV time, smart phone nonsense, and general wastefulness associated with the worst aspects of watching a screen.

1.) Practice the one-hour rule.

Avoid any screen time – smartphone, TV, iPad, etc. – one hour after you wake up and one hour before you go to bed.

Your morning routine should be arranged so that the first hour is devoted to checking emails. Instead develop a morning routine that includes activities like exercise, personal reflection, journaling, and other activities that ground you.

By avoiding the strain on your eyes of looking at monitors before bed, you’ll go to sleep faster and likely sleep better.

The One Hour Rule - 13 ways to limit screen time

2.) Don’t eat meals with a screen in front of you.


Multi-tasking is overrated when there’s a meal in front of you. Give your eyes a rest and enjoy the food you prepared and each other’s company.

If you’re eating alone, use this time to think through things you’re grateful for or do some personal planning, e.g. what do you want to accomplish next week.

Don't eat meals with a screen in front of you

3.) Don’t charge your phone in your bedroom.

When you charge your phone near your bed, it’s much too tempting to check it every time you wake up – even in the middle of the night. When you make it too easy for yourself to do a quick check, you end up checking a lot more.

Instead, charge your phone in another room. It sounds like a small thing, but it can make a big difference.

Don't charge your phone in the bedroom

4.) Schedule your day and schedule your screen time.

The old business idiom of  “Plan your work and work your plan,” can help you reduce your time in front of screens. Set a goal for yourself each day of how much time you want to spend in front of a monitor of any kind. And, then, schedule accordingly.

If you put in some heavy screen time during the work-week for your job, you might try to schedule a lot of time that doesn’t include any screen time during the weekend. Plan an outing by yourself or with family or friends. Only access your phone for incoming calls, emergencies, or directions.

5.) Check out books from the library.

To avoid reading books on your kindle screen or smartphone, visit the library and get books the old-fashioned way: by checking them out. It’s still the best deal in town. Improve your smarts – and if you promptly return them by the stated due dates – there’s no charge.

6.) Walk more.

Walking is not only one of the perfect exercises, but it’s also a great way to collect your thoughts.

Notable walkers include Steve Jobs, Reese Witherspoon, Henry David Thoreau, and Charles Dickens. After Dickens worked each day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., he would go on a long walk. And by a long walk, I mean 20 to 30 miles in distance. Apparently, if Dickens didn’t walk “far and fast,” he thought he’d “explode and perish” from the thought of remaining still.

The benefits of walking include improved circulation, weight loss, and strengthening muscles.

Health benefits of walking - 13 ways to limit screen time

7.) Listen to Audible books.

Instead of placing additional strain on your eyes, think about putting your ears to the test. Check out Audible for the latest and greatest NY Times bestsellers. Sometimes, the authors narrate their own books.  Check out Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime or Break Shot: My First 21 Years by James Taylor.

To receive one credit per month – essentially one book – at Audible costs $14.95 per month.  Combine your Audible books with your daily walk and you’re on to something.

8.) Limit the number of times you pick up your smart phone.

Research shows folks check their phones on average about 58 times per day. That’s a crazy, high number. And, folks will spend over one minute each time they pick up the phone.

Consider setting some ground rules. Perhaps you try to reduce the average number by checking your phone once per hour. If you figure 16 awake hours times two. That equals 32 times. That’s a significant reduction from 58 times. Or, three times in the morning, three in the afternoon, and three in the evening could get you to under 10 times per day.

9) Don’t take your phone into the bathroom.

Really? It seems a shame I even have to write this. But, there are lots of people who just can’t leave their phone behind. Please place your phone on your desk or table before heading into the bathroom.

10.) Check out all that podcasts have to offer.

From keeping up on the news to self-improvement and just about any topic you can think of, podcasts have a lot to offer. The art of storytelling has come back and the medium is podcasts.

Here are a few of our favorites: The Moth, How I Built This, Against The Rules (Michael Lewis).

All About Podcasts Video

11.) Restrict your social media use.

Not a lot of opinions are changes on Facebook or Twitter. To comment on every photo you think you need to would require the employment of a small army. Consider taking a break from social media for a couple of weeks to see if you miss it.

Try to limit your time on these rabbit holes to a manageable number of minutes.

12.) Delete apps you don’t use.

Our smartphones over time become a deposit for all the apps we were once interested in. But, when you really think about it, there’ probably only one screen of apps we use consistently.

Do you really need to keep all the others?

Get back to the basics. Keep the worthwhile apps. But, do you really need the app on horoscopes?

13.) Take up a new hobby or revisit an old one.

I had a teacher once tell me that if during the day you worked mostly with your mind and thinking, your after-hours hobby should involve doing something with your hands. And if you worked during the day mostly with your hands, your evening hobby should have a focus on thinking.

It kind of makes sense. It gives you some balance, in addition to putting a limit on your screen time.

So, go ahead, revisit one of your favorite hobbies from younger days. Or, take on the new challenge of a new pastime. Have you considered taking up pickleball? What about painting? Have you always wanted to be better at chess? The sky is the limit.

When all else fails

If you can’t kick the habit, some times you just have to go cold turkey. To limit your screen time to a set time per day, e.g. 10 minutes at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. Or, maybe even have a family member hide your phone during set times, e.g. during dinner.

With fewer hours logged in front of a screen, most folks’ moods improve. So, go out there and enjoy the day!

— Emily Ryan

Emily writes about family, productivity, and pop culture.

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