Our journey to staying present: Join us in the #ScreenTimeChallenge!

We all know the feeling: you have a spare two minutes, pull out your smartphone, and before you know it, 25 minutes have passed.

Connecting us all — yet also making us more distant than ever — smartphones are an undeniable problem in our society today.

Whether it's checking email, texting, getting directions, or just playing Candy Crush on a crowded commute, we rely on our phone almost every waking moment.

Our mobile devices are powerful tools that should enable us to be more productive, efficient, and connected. But these tools have become distraction machines that we turn to at the drop of a hat, fundamentally changing the ways we occupy ourselves. We've forgotten how to be bored.

This heavy phone usage impacts us in work and play, making us feel distracted, anxious, and unable to disconnect. The culmination of these feelings of anxiety caused by restricted access to our phones even has a name: Nomophobia.

The stats on screen time 📊

Introducing the Screen Time Challenge 🏆

These statistics are pretty scary, right? That’s why we created the #ScreenTimeChallenge.

We’re challenging everyone here at Front (and you too if you’d like to join us!) to get our screen time down to less than 14 hours per week. That's 8 hours less than the average of 22 hours per week. The easiest way to start? Track your screen time usage.

How to check your screen time usage 📱

Luckily, our phones have made it pretty simple to track your screen time.

On an iPhone, go to "Settings" and "Screen Time."

On Android, simply go to "Settings" and "Digital Wellbeing." You can add this icon to your app drawer, too.

Tips to minimize your screen time usage 📉

Once you've got a sense of your current daily screen time, you can start finding ways to cut down. Our #ScreenTimeChallenge allows you to do this any way you like, but here are a few of our favorite tips to stay on track:

  • - Turn off all your app notifications. Notifications are meant to pull you back to your phone and break your concentration. This alone will drastically reduce your screen time - trust us!
  • - Delete your non-essential apps. Here's a good litmus test for what those are: do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling? Do you compulsively check it, or feel anxious when you can't check it? Is it not critical to your job or family life?
  • - If you can’t delete these non-essential apps, at the very least move them off your home screen (out of sight, out of mind, right?)
  • - Change your phone’s color settings to grayscale, making those perfect little app icons much less tempting.
  • - Set screen time limits on your phone, which lets you allocate a certain amount of time to spend on types of apps (think “social media,” “games,” etc). Here’s how to set it up on iPhone and Android.
  • - Set app downtime, a set time every day (we recommend an hour before bed until an hour after you wake up) when your apps are not available.
  • - Android has a few great features similar to this, like Wind Down and Shush Mode.
  • - Buy a physical watch and a physical alarm clock. It will do wonders.
  • - Institute “no phone zones” in your house or office, and tell your coworkers and family to keep you accountable.
  • - Designate a "phone drawer" to physically put your phone away and out of sight.
  • - Disable 'raise to wake' feature on iPhone.

Try apps to cut down on screen time 📲

It might sound counter-intuitive, but there are also a handful of apps that can help you remember to be conscious of your mobile usage and to avoid being sucked into mindless scrolling.

Flipd: Set usage time limits for apps (that lock once you’ve used up your time) and monitor productivity

Space: Set your personal screen usage goals and compare your progress and behavior with others

Antisocial: Track social media usage, compare with your peers, and pick a buddy to hold each other accountable

Moment: Set a time limit on your phone, after which you get notified to quit using your phone for the day

Rescuetime: Track website and app time to tell you exactly how you’re spending your day and where to cut back

It’s time to take our phone habits into (or, out of) our own hands. By re-evaluating our relationships with our mobile devices, we can all become a bit more thoughtful around how we interact with them and - in turn, become more productive at work, more present in our daily lives, and less distracted in general.

Want to join us in the #ScreenTimeChallenge? Write to us at @frontapp on Twitter to let us know how your progress is coming!