If I was forced to pick one thing that could change your life, learning how to manage your screen time would be one of my top choices. We can talk about time blocking and time management all day and we do, just look in the Facebook group or at the podcast episodes. But the one thing that most of us struggle with that can completely undermine our efforts is our daily screen time.
This is such a passionate area for me and one that I have worked on in my own life. I’ve done some research that I am going to share with you before I dive into what I call my Social Media Freedom Framework. That framework will help you analyze and conquer your high screen time numbers. So grab your notepads and let’s dive in, mommas!
Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast
Why You Need Freedom from Screen Time
On podcast episode 58, I talked about the four biggest mistakes that moms make. Number four was letting social media steal your time. This is such a big issue in today’s world that I decided to give the subject its own episode and blog post. I did some research and was saddened by what I found.
One survey of moms found that 60% of moms were using their phones for at least 2 hours per day. This survey also found that 68% of moms with children under the age of 5 felt guilty about their screen time usage. The reasons these moms felt guilty?
- 47% said they were neglecting their family
- 29% felt they were wasting their time
This survey’s findings are actually on the low side. An article from Slate says that their survey found that parents spent an average of 3.29 hours per day. These numbers may feel high or low to you, but I want to encourage you to think about it this way. I built my business on two hour nap times. Two hours a day is 10 hours a work week. You can do a lot with those 10 hours.
More Reasons to Examine Your Screen Time
In 2018, Erika Christakis wrote an article for The Atlantic called The Dangers of Distracted Parenting about the growing problem of parental screen usage. While most people can agree that screen time is a key problem in children’s development, there is a surprising lack of attention given to how parents are setting the example in this area. All of this screen time is leading to Continuous Partial Attention and the consequences for our children are dire. I highly recommend you read that article.
Another resource to help you understand the importance of this issue is the documentary called The Social Dilemma. It is available on Netflix and explains why social media is as addictive as it is. Spoiler alert: it’s designed that way.
Why Are We Like This?
Now that you understand the consequences of our collective addiction to our phones, you may be tempted to beat yourself up. Don’t do that. Instead, I want you to think about why you are drawn to your phone. Specifically, I want you to think about social media. Because, let’s be real here, the biggest culprit of wasted time online for most of us is social media.
There is more than one possible reason why, but I want to take a moment to focus on the one that I see as the most common. It’s the comparison trap. We get sucked into seeing what other moms are doing and then wrapped up in comparing how we are doing based on what we see on the other mom’s profile. Stop it.
Do not compare yourself to someone who isn’t you! If you struggle with this, take some time to think about why. Ask yourself “what am I missing?” and assess your feelings. Are you lonely? Overwhelmed?
“You can do a lot of good with two hours per day. I built my business on two hour nap times. What would you do with an extra ten hours a week?”
Social Media Freedom Framework
Now that we are all on the same page about the problem, let me tell you my solution. Just like everything else I teach, we are going to first think about the why and then put a system in place to help you reduce your screen time so you can give your children the mother they deserve and that you deserve to be.
1. Look at Why You Are Using Social Media
I want you to write down and answer these questions in your notebook:
- Why do I need social media?
- What do I use it for?
After you have answered the questions, I want you to also write down what you are NOT using social media for. You may have more answers, but the two that I want to make sure you get are these:
- Comparing yourself to anyone else
- Political rabbit holes or social judgment
Spending your time on either of these two things is a waste of your precious time. Do not let them suck you in.
2. Categorize Your Findings
Now you are going to separate your reasons into two groups – personal and business. Beside each item, write down how much time you need to complete each task and then total them all up. See my example below.
|Encourage friends (15 min./day)||Instagram post, 3x/week (15 min. each)|
|Stay connected to family (10 min./day)||Instagram stories, everyday (30 minutes)|
|Learn inside groups (30 min./week)||Facebook groups, daily (30 minutes)|
|Networking in other groups (30 minutes)|
|3 hours, 25 minutes||2 hours, 15 minutes|
The grand total for this list is 5 hours, 40 minutes of social media time per week (all seven days for the personal). This equates to roughly 48 minutes per day of social media time.
3. Find Alternatives When Possible
What can you do outside of social media? When you look at your list, are there things you could do that accomplish the same result without using the actual social media platform? Every time you open the app, you are facing the temptation to just keep scrolling. The more you can get outside the apps, the better you can control your addiction.
For example, using social media for business can be a good thing. But you don’t have to use the apps for everything. Here are four ways you can reduce your in app time:
- Create posts in a 3rd party app.
- Plan out your content. Batch your graphics and images. Use something like Planoly or Canva to keep it organized.
- Set up the ability to reuse content. Use the notes app on your phone. When I decide on a topic that I’m going to discuss, I write out my thoughts on my Notes app. Then I take pieces of it and use it in my Facebook group, Instagram stories and feed, and in my emails.
- Create spreadsheets for tracking. Don’t just fly blind. Track what you comment on and what you want to follow up on. It may feel overwhelming at first, but it is worth the effort to get the tools in place to be used as often as you can.
How I Handle Social Media in My Business
When you sit down to plan out your week, use the tasks above to create your workflow. My workflow shows me how I’m going to use social media that week. I don’t walk into that time not knowing what to do.
In my workflow, I have a specific batch of work called “Daily Social Platforms (1 1/2 hr).” Under the Facebook group section it tells me on Monday, do XYZ; on Tuesday, do XYZ; etc. The same goes for Instagram stories and Instagram posts.
I go in depth with this in the Systemize Your Biz portion of the Academy. If you are ready to streamline the business side of things to help reduce your screen time, I’d love to have you join!
You can have all the best intentions in the world, but if you don’t employ discipline, you won’t make progress in this area. What you need are boundaries. I recommend these boundaries:
- Delete social media apps on the weekend. All of them. If you are tempted to sit and scroll, delete. I will even do this on a daily basis at times because there are times I can’t control myself either. It’s not complicated to put the apps back on your phone, but it is enough to stop the knee-jerk reaction to tap on the app when you are bored.
- Create no cell phone zones. Make specific spaces or experiences screen free. For our house, the kitchen table is a no phone space and when the whole family is home is a no phone experience.
- Set daily limits. I know it just takes a tap to “ignore for the day,” but we are all adults here. I want you to feel the guilt of ignoring the limit. Hold yourself accountable.
- Read more books. That’s it. Just read more books, it’s great for you and doesn’t involve your phone.
You Can Reduce Your Screen Time
Just to make sure you have the tools you need, here are resources to help you kick your phone habit:
- The Academy – Get your systems in place.
- Systemize Your Life podcast – Episode 13 – How To Reduce Screen Time For You And Your Kids Plus What To Do Instead
- The Stefanie Gass Show – Episodes 151, 213, 213.5 are especially helpful in this area.
- You Are the Girl for the Job – A book I found helpful when dealing with the comparison trap.
- The Social Dilemma – Documentary on Netflix.
- Dwell app – Audible Bible app that I use to keep me from the knee-jerk reaction to want to be in my phone all the time.
- SOAP Bible Study from Horatio Printing
To keep with the momentum, I want you to pop over to the Facebook group super quick and tell me these three things:
- What is your daily screen time average?
- What is your daily screen time goal?
- What resources are you going to dive into to help you on this journey?
That’s it for today! I hope you are encouraged to take your screen time seriously and ready to commit to reducing the time you are a distracted parent. Trust me, it’s worth the effort!
Frequently Asked Questions
What if my screen time is a lot? Like a whole lot?
I can feel your guilt from here. The fact that you took the first step and faced your big screen time number is great! Before you jump into dropping that number, ask yourself if you are the type of person that needs to go big to make a change stick or do you need baby steps? If you are a “go big or go home” kind of gal, aim to cut that bad boy down by 50% in the coming week. If you need baby steps, try 10%.
Then, next time you pick up your phone to scroll, open up the podcast app instead and listen to an episode or part of an episode of Systemize Your Life. Choose a title that will encourage you in some area of your life where you may be struggling. You didn’t scroll and you were encouraged. It’s win-win!