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5 tips for reducing screen time without impacting productivity

In today's world where virtual offices are becoming the norm, it's hard to believe that there was a time where people would work without the means of a computer, the internet or Zoom. Looking at a screen has become so ingrained in our day to day life and overall it has its positive impact, for example, working from home and staying connected has never been easier. But excessive use can sometimes increase tiredness and reduce productivity at work.

While throwing out the laptop or phone for the work day isn't an option for most of us, you can implement small, actionable steps to reduce the time you spend looking at a screen. Here are five tips that will help reduce your screen time without impacting your productivity levels.

1. Pick up a pretty analog clock

How many times do you think you look at your phone just to check the time? On average, we check our phones around 58 times a day and 30 of those are just for the time. Checking the time can lead to answering messages, reading the news and sometimes you spend minutes engaging with something that isn't productive at all.

By having an analog clock you can keep track of the time without the temptation to pick up your phone and potentially spiral down an internet rabbit hole. We've all been there.

Find a vintage clock to brighten the visual aesthetic of your desk or treat yourself to a wrist watch (not a smart watch) so you constantly have a way of keeping track of time that isn't your phone.

2. Change up the environment for your phone calls

Not all meetings and calls when you're working from home need to be over video. Hold your calls over Teams with audio only or via a regular phone call and head outside if the weather is in your favour.

It's important to regularly be looking beyond 20 feet if you're working from a computer the majority of the time, this will help reduce eyestrain and your need for glasses further down the road! Taking calls outside is a great way to break up your day and get some vitamin D without feeling like you're not working.

Make sure you have a notebook and pen handy to take notes and if you're stuck inside, resist the urge to look at a computer while on a call, sit by the window and enjoy the view outside.

3. Create your offline to-do list

Start each day by putting pen to paper and writing your list of tasks for the day, whether these are personal or work related. Also make note of any meetings or calls you have planned. By consciously trying to remember your meetings and calls for each day, without the ease of looking at your calendar, exercises your memory. This might be difficult to start with but as you start to make this a part of your daily routine, you'll find that remembering meetings you have planned will become easier.

On paper, work out where you have time in the day between meetings and plan your tasks in timeframes. Planning your day is not only a mental exercise but also keeps you motivated for physically ticking off those tasks at the end of the day.

4. Do a "brain dump" writing exercise

It can be difficult to find time in our busy lives for creativity exercises that seem non-essential, like a brain dump. But it's important to regularly take time digging in to your subconscious and letting that creativity flow to build a framework for any future planning and ensure you're on track with your personal and work goals.

Open up a notebook and start writing down anything that's on your mind. You can do a focused brain dump on a specific topic or you can do a general brain dump where you write down anything that's on your mind and see where it leads you. It may feel a little all over the place but that's the point.

Once you feel you've got your thoughts on paper, take a look at what you've written and start to group your thoughts together by category and pick out ideas that could be actionable. You can then start prioritising, making to-do lists, and think about who could execute each item.

5. Set time limits on your most-used apps

Go into screen time settings and you can see where you spend the majority of your time when you pick up the phone. Now think about how much of that time is spent in the app being productive, doing what you need to be doing. Generally, a lot of time is lost on looking and scrolling.

A simple way to reduce your screen time without impacting your productivity is by setting a time limit for particular apps. This not only provides a mental timeframe for which you can use the app but also encourages you to keep productivity levels up while using particular apps so you don't use all the allotted time.

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