Accountable for screen time: Mobile devices

You might have seen chart before. It shows how we spend our screen time - desktop vs. mobile.

It proves this: Mobile devices don't replace computers. Our work isn't moving from desktop to mobile. We just spend more time looking at screens.

This is the scariest chart I've seen recently. It just scares me. I'm grateful for every minute of my life and I hate the idea that I'm just giving it away. I want to use it for myself or give it to others, but not give it up for free.

Waiting in Starbucks line

Some people will say: But I'm waiting in line for coffee. There's no better way to spend this time, I might as well read Twitter.

I think you're better off being bored than on Twitter. Your mind can do wonderful things when it's bored. You can think about your day before it starts and be better prepared. You can think about a decision you're about to make. Or you can think about the next paragraph for your article - and yes, this paragraph was born moments ago when I was bored waiting for my coffee.

Being alone with your thoughts is better use of time than reading social media.

Being accountable

I've been playing with this idea of being accountable for all your screen time. Just like a company knows how they spend their money and resources, we should know how we spend our time.

For iPhone, the best tracker you can get is Moment. It doesn't tell you how you spent your time, but it tells you how much time you spent on your device every day.

A lot of people log more than 2 hours of screen time every day. I urge you to download that app (it's free) and try it. Then let me know on Twitter.

Let me just emphasize how serious this is. If you give up 2 hours every day, that makes 14 hours in a week. That's almost two working days.

Was that for work?

We have no way of categorizing our screen time (at least not on iPhone). Moment tracks only total time. If you were sending urgent emails, or taking notes - that's work, that's probably not wasted.

But there's a thin line between responding to urgent email - and checking email every 15 minutes. I think one is better off without email client on the phone.

So what can we do?

My solution

My solution is to only use iPhone for work. I have email, but I try to only use it for urgent matters. I use Things 3, Notes, Calendar and such, the most.

That way, when Moment reports 1 hour spent on phone, I know that time was used for work - but that number still bothers me, to be honest.

I don't have a web browser on my phone or any app for social media. I don't miss them, you get used to it. I loathe the idea of scrolling Instagram 20 minutes every day. That's a perfect waste of time.

The things have changed over the last couple of years and it's easier than ever to waste time. We didn't have to think about this 15 years ago when Internet was slow, required a cable and there was no Snapchat. Things are different now, and I believe we need to be a lot more careful when it comes to spending time.

Further reading

My favorite book on the topic is Deep Work. It talks pretty much about this topic, but goes into much greater detail.