How to Cut Down on Screen Time and Invest in Those Around You
Snapchat stories, Instagram posts, tweets … the list goes on and on. In today’s culture, it’s becoming harder and harder to cut down on phone time and be present with those around you. Here are some tips on how to become less invested in your phone and more invested in others’ lives.
Track your time
The iPhone Screen Time feature can be a real wake-up call. It calculates the average amount of time you spend on your phone daily and sends you a report every Sunday. You can also set it to tell you when you’ve surpassed a specific amount of time on an app. I use it for Instagram and Snapchat and find it extremely useful. If you feel like you spend endless hours scrolling, the Screen Time feature can help you cut down on wasted time.
Silence your phone
Another nifty feature on most phones is Do Not Disturb. I turn this feature on when I’m with friends and family or doing homework. It’s helpful because it silences all notifications, so you don’t feel the need to pick up your phone every time it vibrates. If you’re scared of missing an important call, you can set it to let your favorites always go through. Plus, if someone calls you twice within five minutes, they’ll always be let through.
Ask your friends about important dates, tests, and presentations and set a reminder for yourself to text or call them during the day to check in. You never know how far one phone call from a friend can go during a stressful time. If their test didn’t go as well as they wanted it to, follow up the next week and see what they got. If their predictions were right, offer ice cream or a hug. If they were wrong, they’ll get a chance to brag on themselves (#HumbleBrag).
Growing up, I was always told to listen. Whether it was in sports, school, or a family setting, listening has never been my strong suit. I had to train myself to listen without formulating a reply in my head and really hear what the person is saying to me.
If a friend is stressed, even if you’re busy, take five minutes to listen to what’s going on with them. Your friend will feel better, plus you’ll feel better for stepping away from your own stressful life for a moment.
Get together without distractions
Another great way to be present with those around you is to have a weekly or monthly dinner. With everyone in your groups’ busy schedules, it can be a hassle to get everyone in one place at the same time. Once you get a time and place nailed down, make a rule that phones should be left in the car or piled at the end of the table and silenced. If you’re trying to be budget-friendly, have everyone meet at someone’s apartment and bring a dish. Just don’t get too stressed out by making a dish that you end up like I did — crying on the floor because I forgot chicken at the store.
Be a friend
Can’t get everyone together at once? Invest time in your friends individually. If they’re stuck late at the library, run and get them food so they don’t have to get out of their study groove. My love language is acts of service, so something like this can make my whole week. Or, when your friend is crying on the floor over chicken (#RIP), run to the store for them. Their tears are probably not just over chicken. Remember that everyone is human, and friends pick up each other’s slack when one is having a hard time.
Tell the people around you how important they are to you. Small anecdotes can reinforce a strong base of friendship and mutual support. Even if it’s just a thank you for listening to your rant, a small “Hey, I love you” text, or a tag in the comments of a cute dog video on Facebook. Let people know they are loved because you never know how much they need it.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Sydney W.