28-Day Challenge: Screen Time Cap

After realizing my average daily screen time crept above 5 hours, I decided to create a cap for the next 28 days. Let's win back some freedom.

28-Day Challenge: Screen Time Cap

Very few things that I see throughout the week make me feel sick to my stomach. Looking at my daily average screen time from my phone health report sent that sickening feeling through my body.

Granted, I use my phone for music, Slack messages for work, and even for research purposes; at least that's what I tell myself. Reviewing the numbers, and the most used apps (social media), it's clear that the time is not nearly as productive as I lie to myself that it is.

I challenge you right now: open your phone's health report, available on all Android and Apple phones, and look at your usage report. How does that number make you feel? How much time is spent staring at your phone screen each week?

I've had enough and I'm ready for some change. Welcome to the newest Rise And Grind 28-Day Challenge - The Screen Time Cap.

The Screen Time Cap Challenge

Step 1 - Set A Limit

Starting the 1st of the month, I've set a challenge for myself to cap my screen time on my mobile device to 1 hour per day—no exceptions. Once that cap is hit, I can only use my phone from that point forward to receive and place calls—all apps are dead to me.

I use my phone for productive tasks throughout the week, so not all screen time is negative on my mobile device, but most of it is. I need to allocate my time each day to ensure I have enough time to use my phone for the productive tasks I use it for daily while keeping social scrolling to a minimum.

I challenge you to look at your digital wellbeing app on your device, review your weekly averages, the apps you spend the most time on, and set a daily time limit for yourself for the next 28 days.

Android and Apple make this task extremely easy. I can set a total device limit, a limit by app, and even reminders along the way when I get close to hitting certain limits.

I will be grouping all my potential time-wasting apps into a bucket and setting the time limit for 1 hour daily, with notifications at 30 minutes remaining, 15 minutes remaining, and 5 minutes remaining. For the next 28 days, I CANNOT extend this limit.

Step 2 - Fill The Time

If my daily screen time averages are correct, I will be freeing up 2-4 hours of time each and every day, or up to 112 hours in the span of the 28-day challenge. This is encouraging because I know I can accomplish some pretty big goals with that time, and it's sickening at the same time knowing I've been wasting that much time each month for who knows how long.

As humans, we fill time. If a void exists, we naturally fill it. I know if I don't plan what I will do with my extra time each day, it will be filled with another less-than-productive activity.

Here is my list of acceptable uses of downtime when I get the urge to pull out my phone and the time is used up:

  1. Read a book - I have three books I've been wanting to start that will be queued up and ready to go.
  2. Exercise - I have daily workouts planned, along with simple mobility workouts to do on the spot if I get a free 5-10 minutes.
  3. Work - Since I work from home and am self-employed, much of the time wasted on my phone each week could be better spent working on productive tasks. This will be different for everyone, but much of this time that becomes freed up I will be spending working at my desk.
  4. Play with the kids - Nights are often the time I pull my phone out the most. For this month, that time freed up will be spent playing outside with my kids, teaching them a new game, practicing their sport, etc.
  5. Clean - I hate a disorganized home, and I'm often the biggest culprit for our home being disorganized. If I have 20-30 minutes free, there are many rooms that can use organizing in our home and that is a much better use of time than scrolling through social media.
  6. Think - Often times, I feel my urge to scroll through social media comes from the escape it gives me from my thoughts (often the thoughts telling me all the things that would be a much wiser use of my time). Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Just sit there. In quiet. With my thoughts.

Step 3 - Document the Process

I've never been great at journaling, and this isn't a journaling challenge, but each night I will quickly jot down a few notes of 1) what my total screen time for the day was, and 2) what I was able to accomplish that day during the times I would typically be glued to my phone.

This should take no more than 2-3 minutes and will be worth it to review at the end of the challenge.

Start The Challenge Now

It's often tempting to delay new beginnings, waiting for a fresh week, a new month, or some significant event to start a new habit or challenge. However, I urge you to take action immediately. Right now, grab your phone, set your daily screen time limit, and get started. If you've already exceeded today's limit, accept it and put the device away for the remainder of the day.

Once I finish writing this post, I'll set my own timer and commit to this challenge for the next 28 days—no exceptions.

Subscribe to the email newsletter below to follow along and discover the results of this challenge, which I'll share on day 28!