These days, almost everyone has an electronic device on his/her person – and, with it, comes countless distractions. The screen in your pocket can be the source of so much fun, multitasking and entertainment – but also can function as a doorway to interruption and mindless procrastination. So, how can we, as professionals, use our screen time to improve both our quality of life and, even, our quality of work? How can we avoid screen time procrastination and, rather, use our screens to catalyze thought, energy, focus, and physical/mental health?
The first rule of having a healthy relationship with your devices – and using them as a force for good – is to control them, and not let them control you. That means, sorry to say, putting the phone down sometimes. When your phone is too easily accessible, the instinct to mindlessly start scrolling can be overwhelming and it’s easy to become addicted to the dopamine reward each time your Instagram photo has another “like.” But we know that spending mindless hours on our devices is like eating a ton of junk food – sure, it’s fun in the moment, but it’s not a healthy choice. While that initial jolt to the system feels good, the mindless screen time can easily snowball and swallow up hours of your life without any real benefit.
Yes, once you go down that rabbit hole, your screen becomes nothing more than a gateway to work avoidance and procrastination. We’ve all been there and overcoming procrastination is not easy! So leave your phone in the car, if you can! Or at least put it across the room, so it’s not right next to you – and you have a moment to think: “Do I really need to spend the next 15 minutes scrolling through my Twitter feed, or is there a better way to use this time?”
And, yes – there is a better way to use your time. Maybe you have a project at work to complete or should be spending time with your family. In that case, leave your phone alone and get to it! But, if you want to change your relationship with your screen – you can actually start to use your electronic devices in a more mindful and productive manner – with you in control of when and how you use it.
That’s right! Your device wasn’t born evil – it’s a tool that can be used for good or bad. There are actually many ways we can use some quick screen time (5 – 45 minutes) to improve our lives personally and professionally.
Here are some ideas:
- Download a Meditation App
- Headspace and Calm (https://www.calm.com/) are both great apps, each with tons of guided meditations – sorted by both length and subject (for those who want to focus on something specific – like overcoming anxiety or being more confident). Both apps also offer guided morning meditations (for a great start to the day!) – and meditations designed for before you go to sleep. Both have some free content, but a monthly subscription ($10-15/month) will allow access to their entire libraries. Let your screen be your guru!
- Take a YouTube Exercise Class
- There are a ton of great options here – depending on what you’re looking for, but a few minutes online can give you a great energy release and get you pumped and focused for the rest of your day! PopSugar has a lot of free options and free cardio classes that start at just 15 minutes. Get your sweat on! Your device can be your new personal trainer!
- Take a YouTube Yoga Class
- If you’re looking for a middle ground between meditation and a full workout, try some yoga. Your screen can be your gateway into high-quality, free yoga classes – at any level. “Yoga with Adriene” on YouTube is excellent, and just 15 minutes can give you some real relief in your neck and back – especially if you’re the type who spends all day in front of screens! Stretch yourself out, calm yourself down, and return to work or life happy, relaxed, and newly energized. Namaste!
- Challenge Your Brain
- If you want to take a break from work, but keep your brain firing on all cylinders – there are tons of great apps you can get which will provide you with short brain games and keep you sharp. Unlike scrolling through a social media feed, these games are reinvigorating and fun – keeping your brain active, rather than passive. Here are some great options
- Go on a Virtual Visit to a Museum or Landmark
- Don’t just daydream about travel while you’re at your desk – take 5 minutes to do something thought provoking and explore the world via your screen. As opposed to the mindless feed-scrolling on social media, you can use your device take a virtual visit to the Great Wall of China, or transport yourself to the Louvre in Paris, or check out some incredible street art from around the world! . Bon Voyage. Learn something! Get inspired! Keep your brain active and engaged!
- Use Your Phone to Keep You on Task!
- Every laptop, tablet, and smart phone has countless reminders, calendars, alarms, and timers to keep you on task. Use them! This is a simple, but very useful, way to improve multitasking and use your screen to keep you productive and focused on your personal and professional goals.
Remember, your electronic device is a tool, which can be used for good or evil – and it’s your choice. Put boundaries in place to refrain from mindless scrolling and, moreover, think about how to control and use your screen-time in ways that will result in self-improvement, personally and professionally!