How to Reduce Your Screen Time Without Apps, According to Reddit

There are loads of features that help report your screen time, but just like knowing how often you exceed volume recommendations, knowledge isn’t really enough. Here are some tips from Redditors about how to reduce the amount of time you spend on your phone, none of which involve downloading more apps.

Divide your phone use into necessary and unnecessary time

The first thing you should do is take stock of how you’re using your phone. After all, phones have replaced notepads, newspapers, and almost all other forms of personal and professional communication. Maybe you’re actually more productive during your long hours on the device, and realizing that can help you feel less guilty.

One Reddit user said, “What you really need to reduce is not screen time but time wasted on unproductive bullshit on your phone.” Your phone likely has a pre-installed screen time tracker, and it should break down your use by app. Go through the list and pull out anything that you might consider wasteful, but keep in mind that even social media can be informative and helpful, depending on your appetite for current events and your job description.

That same user suggested removing notifications for “all but the most important apps” and uninstalling games or social media apps that don’t serve your productivity. Figuring out which apps need to be curbed is the first step, and then working to actually cut them down (or out entirely) is next.

Keep your phone away from you (though it’s harder than it sounds)

You can toggle on “limits” for apps using your phone itself, but you can easily circumvent those whenever you want. Instead, try keeping your phone away from you. “When you’re doing anything else—eating, reading, watching TV, talking to friends, studying, working—put your phone out of arm’s reach. If I’m working on something that requires my utmost attention, I put my phone in another room,” the same user said.

Practice this physical, mindful activity, and don’t be discouraged if it takes you a while to stop going into the other room to check your notifications. This tip extends well beyond the Redditverse too: Scripps recommends not eating in front of a screen, and keeping them out of your bedroom—especially at bedtime.

It might be helpful to have something else to occupy you while you’re eating or lounging, so try a book or whatever tasks you need to complete that don’t need your phone. Another user suggested, “You could try to recognize patterns of behavior that make you spend time on your phone, for instance after breakfast I always sit in this one chair and mess around on Reddit for a long time. Then you could try to break that pattern, such as going for a walk or doing something else during the time you would normally be in the chair on your phone.”

Make your phone less appealing

One user suggested the same advice we gave years ago: turn your display to grayscale. If your phone isn’t fun to look at, you might not be drawn to it as much. Take it a step further by getting rid of any cool backgrounds, fun fonts, or engaging widgets. Make everything as basic as possible, so you get the information you need without the extra eye candy to suck you in.

Another user suggested getting an older model of phone, which will be cheap and effective in reducing all the apps you can use. You can still use Spotify and send texts, but it’ll be harder to install updated versions of most apps. This means you’ll limit most of your technologically-aided productivity to your computer, yes, but you’ll only be using your computer when you’re at work or during hours you set at home. One user called this “delayed gratitude” and said they start to look forward to the times they’ve set to engage with tech instead of just whipping out their phone whenever they get the urge.

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