I avoided getting a smart phone for years because I didn’t want to become one of those people who walks while texting, emails while her kids play at the park, or checks Facebook at the table on date night. I was proud of myself for staying true to my old-school flip phone for so long…
But then iGot an iPhone and iUnderstood. They’re incredible! How did I go so long without one?! No wonder everyone’s always staring at them! I loved being able to make notes, check my calendar, and upload pictures to Shutterfly anytime! But having unlimited access to email, Facebook, and the internet in general became insidious for me. I would check my email several times a day to see if I’d sold anything on Teachers Pay Teachers, get sucked into comment threads, picture-posting, and “people you might know” on Facebook, and stay up past my bedtime devouring articles about zero waste and minimalism. And when I started this blog, things just got out of hand.
I strive to live in the moment, and nothing takes me out of the moment quite like a smart phone (or a computer, for that matter!). In an effort to be here now, I instated five rules for screen time that have become my own personal laws.
Rule #1: Check email three times a day
I can check my email on my break at work, before I pick up my son from preschool, and after the kids go to bed. I respond to emails on the spot, as necessary, but if one of them happens to be an article, I deduct the time I spend reading it from my “social media” time (see #2).
Rule #2: Ten minutes a day for social media (Facebook)
I can use this time incrementally or all at once (on my break, after work, or post-bedtime). I use my Timer+ app to keep track. When I’m conscious of the time constraint, I use those minutes wisely, not wastefully. It actually feels like a long time; sometimes so long that I call it quits before my time’s up.
Rule #3: Unplug on the weekends and on trips
I don’t check email or Facebook on the weekends (Friday night- Sunday night) or when we’re traveling. That’s my sacred downtime/family time/adventure time. Time to be in the moment without distractions.
Rule #4: Restrict blogging time
I only blog after my kids are asleep, when they’re at my parents’ house, or when they’re out with Dad.
Rule #5: Make the rules easy to follow
In order to abide by my own laws…
- I moved my most tempting icons to the far right screen on my phone so they’re harder to get to.
- I store my laptop in its bag, not on my desk.
- I put my phone away when I’m with my kids (or anyone else), unless I’m taking a picture.
- And I blogged about it (my public promise, if you will).
Now iCan be the iPhone owner iWant to be; one who spends less time staring at a screen and more time doing things like these: