Last year, I challenged myself and those around me to completely disable notifications on our mobile devices. It was an effort to become more present and focused, and it was successful: what began as a source of anxiety and constant distraction became an opportunity for productivity. I suddenly found myself able to get so much more done, in less time.
And removing notifications was just the first step in my quest to be more present. I’ve since found that limiting my overall mobile usage has led to some seriously positive results. Inspired by my friend Justin Kan, I switched my phone to greyscale mode and deleted nearly all my apps. Now, I am no longer tethered to my phone. When I want to get some work done, I have to sit down at my computer to do it. When I’m out to dinner with my husband, I’m engaged in our conversation and have lost the constant urge to check what’s going on in the rest of the world. When I’m waiting for my order in a cafe, I let my mind wander and think creatively rather than mindlessly scroll through social media.
So, I’m trying a new experiment with my employees at Front: I’m challenging my team to use their phones less. To be specific, I’m challenging them to reduce their weekly screen time to 14 hours per week (which is 8 hours less than the average of 22 hours per week). If they meet this weekly challenge for a full month, they will receive $100 they can use towards gym memberships, fitness classes, therapy sessions, massages, or anything meant to improve their physical or mental health. How they reduce their screen time is completely up to them, but we’ve created some resources to help guide them along the way.
The ultimate goal of this challenge is to help my team and encourage others to develop more thoughtful, efficient relationships with our mobile devices. I believe that doing so allows us to be more productive, think more clearly, and be happier. The mission of Front is to Work Happier, and I would do anything I could to help make that a reality for our team. This challenge is one way I can do that, and I believe those who participate will come away from this with a few really great benefits.
A few of those include:
- Being more present: Our phones are constantly pulling us away from the present — both inside and outside of the office. I believe there is an inverse correlation between lowering our screen time and being more present, which has a cascading positive effect.
- Increasing focus and concentration: If we become more thoughtful about how we’re using our phones (and eliminate the habit of constantly checking them), we should be able to maintain a higher level of focus, cut down on multitasking and interruptions, and get into the deep work that matters most.
- Having more meaningful interactions with coworkers, family, and friends: How often are our interpersonal interactions interrupted by our devices? When we put the phone down, meaningful interactions have much more room for growth.
- Ability to disconnect and recharge more easily: So many people immediately reach for their phone as soon as they have one spare moment — which makes it almost impossible to truly relax and recharge. Working to decrease our screen time helps us form the habits and build the mental muscle to actually unplug when it’s time to unplug.
- Reducing stress and anxiety: Simply put, our devices are stressing us out. From being constantly connecting, to being constantly distracted, our phones can be exhausting.
- Creating more time: It takes about 23 minutes to return to a task once you’ve been distracted. Imagine the time you would save if you weren’t constantly bombarded with distractions from your phone!
My goal with this challenge is to help my team enjoy these benefits and I encourage you to join us. You can let me know you’re in by mentioning @frontapp #ScreenTimeChallenge on Twitter.