3 Indirect Ways To Reduce Your Screen Time

Let’s face it, screen limits don’t work.

Tameem Rahman
Sep 29, 2020 · 4 min read
Photo Courtesy of Taylor Tames

You’ve been stuck at home with all this extra time. Your phone is your best friend. Fair enough.

But, things are slowly going back to normal. Whether it’s online or real-life, your daily routine is climbing its way back to relevance but one problem: you acquired some bad habits. Your daily phone usage went from 2–3 to 6–8 hrs.

No? Just me? It increased — probably significantly, that's my point.

Here are three ways I’ve been decreasing my times and increasing productivity:

1. Add The Screen Time Widget To Your Home Screen

I cannot tell you in words how helpful this is. I don’t know if android users already had/have this but with iOS 14 came the widgets. One of them was the screentime widget:

A Screenshot of my homepage

This widget serves as a constant reminder of how much you’re using your phone and how much time is being spent behind apps. It really opens your eyes and shows that those minutes really stack up — something you’d never be able to conceptualize without this tool.

I mean, think about the first time you heard that most of us spend an average of 3–4 hours on our phone. Weren’t you shocked? I was — those recurring 2-minute checks amassed hours of my day and I couldn’t believe it.

After adding this widget, I deleted TikTok. It was taking up more than 2–3 hours alone, daily. I already started feeling happier and more productive just a few days after that.

2. Turn Off Badges and Lockscreen Notifications

Okay, so this one applies to your entertainment apps, not work-related apps. This has significantly reduced the number of times I picked up my phone, and thus, reduced my screen time and allowed me to focus on my work.

Screenshot by Author

Scroll back up and look at the first screenshot, then come back to this one. Which one looks less distracting and isn’t yelling “COME CHECK ME AND GET THIS ANNOYING ASS RED CIRCLE OFF OF ME”?

The “7” you see is for my Gmail. That’s work-related so it’s important for me to be in-the-know for new emails. Everything else, I have to check the notification center or open the app, because the information isn’t mandatory and mostly for entertainment.

App badges (the red circle with a number in it on the top right of each app icon) was designed so you use the app more. Subconsciously, we’re tempted to get rid of that pesky red circle. The more you stay on their app, the more money they make. Turn it off, and you won’t open the app as much.

The lock screen notifications light up your screen, and you turn your head from what you’re working on to check it. Then, if you have the setting configured, you’ll have to unlock the phone to see it. At that point, it’s already in your hand so you open it, from there something else grabs your attention, and so begins the snowball of distraction.

With no app badges and lock screen notifications from Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, or what have you, you become less prone to distractions.

3. Have One Preferred Method of Communication

I used to rely on Instagram to text most people. Bad idea. Because after that reply, no one closes the app. Instead, we swipe right and access our news feed. Next thing you know, 15 minutes gone for one session alone.

I’ve never been a texter, to be honest. I’ve always preferred real-life or calls. But, I respond fastest on iMessage or Snapchat (I don't watch the stories anyway, also, it’s private). All my friends know those are my preferred methods of communication. Why? Less distraction.

If you have 4 different apps on which you communicate, well, that’s 4 different pathways of distraction. Keep it simple, silly.

Bonus: What I Explicitly Said Wouldn’t Work:

Set a screen time limit. I said they don’t work because once your time is up, you’re still not satisfied. You need to see more memes. So, you put in the passcode, that you conveniently know, and bam. Screen limits: useless.

This is why they don’t work for most people. What you really need to do is let a friend or family member who is easily accessible put the limit for you, and create the passcode. Also, make them “cross my heart and hope to die” that they’ll never tell you the pass, even when you hold them at gunpoint. Then, hold them at gunpoint and test their will.

Okay wait don’t do that.

Continue this for a couple of months and you’ll see that you’ve habituated yourself into using your phone for only that set period of time. And maybe, just maybe, you can finally take the training wheels off.

Reducing your screen time for entertainment will undoubtedly increase your productivity, and though I can’t exactly explain it, it makes you happier. Maybe part of it comes from the feeling that you’re getting shit done. Just trust me on this.


We curate outstanding articles from diverse domains and…

Tameem Rahman

Written by

Toronto copywriter, student & entrepreneur on tech, business, and self-discovery.


We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

Tameem Rahman

Written by

Toronto copywriter, student & entrepreneur on tech, business, and self-discovery.


We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store