João Freitas

The following is a write-up on the author’s daily smartphone usage, and how he decided to reduce it without making drastic moves.

According to my iPhone Screen Time, I’m way under the average in terms of usage, but I still think I use my phone too much.

There’s been a number of times lately where I’ve realised I’m spending too much time on my phone. Well, actually I don’t realise; it’s usually my wife shouting “GET OFF THAT BLOODY PHONE!

I decided to do some research to see if I am using it too much and to try and be a bit more cognisant of my phone usage.

Screen time

First step was to establish how much I’m actually using my phone. That’s where Screen Time came in:

My screen time usage

So 1 hour 48 mins per day on average for that particular week, and that’s up 29%; so let’s say an average of 1.5 hours per day. Most of which seems to be spent in my browser and on Mastodon (Toot!)

In 2022, users in the United Kingdom spent an average of four hours and 14 minutes per day using their mobile devices. This represents an increase from the 3.7 hours that users in the country spent on their smartphones during 2020. Between 2019 and the end of 2022, daily time spent on mobile in the UK has experienced a slow but constant increase.

-- Statista

I don’t know how someone would physically be able to spend 4.25 hours per day on their phone, but regardless, I still think I’m using mine too much…

Cleaning up

My knee-jerk reaction was to get rid of the phone and replace it for a dumb phone - just go cold turkey - but after taking a second to think about it, that would have been a dumb move.

Yes, I waste time on my phone, but I also get a lot of value from it - things like podcasts, audiobooks and music all get a lot of use when I’m out and about, either driving or walking the dogs. None of those are easy to replace. Then there’s things like mobile banking, multi-factor tokens, maps and a host of other useful apps.

Instead, I decided to remove all the shit from my phone that wastes my time. Games, Toot! and a few others all fell by the wayside. I also took the time to cleanup the home screen of my phone. It’s now rather minimal:

My phone’s home screen

I still have the other apps on my phone for things like podcasts, audiobooks, music, internet banking etc. but they all need to be searched for instead of a quick click from the home screen.

I wasn’t sure if it would work, but it seems it actually has. The barrier for entry is enough for me to not get my phone out whenever I’m not occupied for 2 seconds.

It does mean that I’m less present on Mastodon, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Final thoughts

I feel like I’m using my phone less, but I do still find myself whipping it out every now and then, realising I don’t have my games etc. and feeling a little disappointed. Hopefully those feelings will go with time.

From here, I’m going to take some time to see if there’s alternatives I can use for those apps that I can’t easily get rid off. I know I could go back to maintaining my own music collection, but the other stuff is way more difficult to replace. Especially the audiobooks, podcasts and IM apps, like Signal and WhatsApp - I can do the banking from my laptop.

You never know, a year or 2 from now, I might be the proud owner of a dumb phone. I doubt it will every happen, but there might be a middle ground where I replace the very expensive iPhone with a basic Android or something…again though, I’m very reluctant to do that since ditching Android a few years back.

Decisions decisions…

#reads #kev quirk #addiction #iphone #detox