How To Win The Battle Between Screen Time And Wellbeing

Discover six tips for a mindful smartphone setup

Let’s be honest, in 2023, there’s just no getting around technology, screen time and online connectivity. From work, to shopping, to gaming and entertainment, to reading, to education, to socialising, and even booking an appointment with a GP, our activities mostly revolve around screens and Apps and being on one or more of our screens on any given day.

For many of us who have evolved alongside technology over the past decade, this way of living has seamlessly become the norm. For children being born into this tech-filled world, even more so. In many ways, it’s made our lives more efficient and more convenient. However, no matter how accustomed we’ve become to all these increased hours of multiple screen time, it still takes its toll on our wellbeing. So, how can we manage this issue and strike the right balance between living with all our screens and technology while ensuring connectivity to our health and wellbeing?

Let’s take a look…

Six Tips for a Mindful Smartphone Setup

Smartphones are a necessity for a lot of us. Here are some tips to help you cut down on wasted time spent scrolling, and to set your phone up to be an oasis of calm.

Change Your Wallpaper

Step one to making your phone less exciting to use is changing your wallpapers to a solid colour. Visually pleasing or emotional imagery, such as photos of your family, can actually entice you to interact with your phone because the picture feels inviting.

Create a Minimalist Home Screen

Clear up your home screen so that when you first unlock your phone, only the necessary apps are showing. Be strict with yourself and move any of your time-wasting or guilty pleasure apps into folders on a second home screen that you have to scroll to find. Or remove them from the home screen completely, so that you have to go into your App Library to find them.

iPhone iOS 16 Lock Screen iPhone iOS 16 Home Screen

Delete Unnecessary Apps

You know the ones we mean. You’re bound to have a few apps you no longer use that are taking up storage space or visual real estate on your home screen. Time for a clear out.

Customise Your Notifications

Notifications are there to alert you to important things, such a new message from a friend. But with so many apps on our phones, these have got out of hand.
You can customise notifications for every app. Choose your most important apps (Phone, Messages, WhatsApp) and allow notifications to pop up on your lock screen or show up as a temporary banner at the top of the screen. Turn off notifications completely for other apps, or allow them to only show up in your Notification Centre. This means that they’ll be there when you want to check, but they won’t interrupt what you’re doing. You can also choose whether or not notifications make sounds.

Remove Badge Notifications

Badges are those little coloured circles that appear next to an app when it has a notification. If you have a compulsive need to zero this out every time you get one, why not try turning them off for all or selected apps? You’ll still receive important notifications on your lock screen or Notification Centre, but you won’t be overwhelmed with the urge to check every app as soon as you unlock your phone.

Apple iPhone Whatsapp App Notification icon

Get a Grip on Group Chats

It’s too easy to be brought into a new WhatsApp or Facebook group chat for a particular event, only to find that you keep getting buzzed by people three weeks later. If you’re already in a group chat with the same people, leave the additional ones. You can also Mute or Archive chats that are no longer relevant, reducing interruptions.

Use Focus Modes

Do Not Disturb does what it says on the tin, and stops all but specified people and apps from notifying you. Focus Modes are an extension of Do Not Disturb but can be customised to allow different kinds of apps for different scenarios. When you’re working, you can prevent social media and entertainment apps from popping up. Maybe you’re trying to enjoy your day off? ‘Personal’ focus modes can block out work-related apps and calendar notifications, so you can keep your mind off your emails. Sleep mode allows you to silence all notifications except calls from specific people, so you know they can still reach you in an emergency.

General Screen Mindfulness

Practicing simple mindfulness around your screen usage can be the difference between becoming easily distracted, restless, and losing valuable time and sleep (to name a few drawbacks) and enjoying a life that’s present, healthy, and balanced. Without actively monitoring how many hours you actually spend in front a screen, it can really get away with you. There are several basic and well-known, yet underutilised tech habits that we should all remind ourselves of and reinforce. By adopting all these healthy tech habits and creating strict boundaries (and sticking to them), you can safeguard your state of wellbeing, ensuring it’s not disrupted by screen time - simply enhanced by it.

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