The role of technology in our lives expands at an ever increasing rate, yet, as we become more skilled and familiar with technology this can sometimes come at the expense of our wellbeing. In spite of this, increased mental health awareness and increasingly advanced technology means it is becoming easier to monitor, and moderate, online behavior. There are an expanding number of strategies to reduce screen time, procrastination, and to increase productivity and happiness.
Cutting out distractions
Consider which elements of your online life matter to you, and which do not. A useful exercise is to write down which notifications you most often receive and to cross out those that are not important. For example, direct messages from friends and family are important, whereas marketing emails and weather notifications are not. Next, turn off notifications, unsubscribe, delete, or mute the unnecessary distractions and see if you prefer the experience; with fewer (and more meaningful) notifications you'll likely find it easier to focus and enjoy using technology more.
Monitoring screen time
Both Android and iOS have features to help you understand, and change, how you interact with your devices. Google's app 'Digital Wellbeing' is available to Android One and Pixel users, other Android users can choose from a variety of alternatives. 'ActionDash' is a popular, free, alternative. Users of iOS 12 and above can use 'Screen Time' to monitor usage.
Using social media timers
Although there are many distractions in our digital lives, social media is often the principal distraction. Adults in the UK spend, on average, 3 hours 15 minutes online per day. (Wright, 2019) Much of this time is spent on social media. Endless scrolling can quickly become a habit, despite being relatively dull or unimportant. Luckily, some social media sites have introduced tools to help users curb time spent on the platforms. Instagram and Facebook (see below) both allow you to set timers that remind you when you've spent an allotted time using them and record your average time spent on the app. These tools are a simple but effective way to cut down time spent on social media- try them for yourself and see if you waste less time.
Headspace for meditation
Mindfulness is an increasingly popular technique used to unwind; it simply means paying more attention to your physical self and feelings. Meditation is quickly becoming mainstream as it is a useful tool in managing your own mental health. Headspace is an app that provides guided meditation sessions to help users relax, often after work or before bed. The app is free with plenty of different exercises to choose from (some of which are paid for) which, for many people, greatly increases their focus and happiness.