The best ways to minimise screen time on Android to get your life back on track

The best ways to minimise screen time on Android to get your life back on track

It is our smartphones and laptops that made the information age possible. With so much content to consume and so many people at our fingertips, it’s easy to get lost in our screens. It doesn’t help us – excessive use of smartphones has been linked to eye strain, shortened attention spans, neck problems and a host of other physical and mental health problems. That’s why limiting screen time is not only important, it’s crucial to our overall well-being. If you find it difficult, we have some tools and apps to help you find the right balance.

Use Android’s digital wellness feature

After a year-long Pixel-only run, Digital Wellbeing has been turned into a requirement for all Android phones in 2019. That might not sound like much, but the move is significant in its implications. With the inclusion of Digital Wellbeing, every Android device now comes with a bunch of features to help you limit your screen time, right out of the box. You can set timers for each app, pause distracting apps, set a bedtime mode to help you sleep, and more.

1. Set timers for apps

It’s not always the phone that’s the problem, sometimes it’s just an app. You might have a habit of doom-scrolling Instagram or maybe YouTube is your poison. If so, you can set a timer for selected apps. After the set timer has reached its end, you will no longer have access to the program for the rest of the day.

digital wellness timer for apps Digital Wellbeing’s timer feature prevents you from using the app for the rest of the day when the timer runs out

To set a timer for apps, go to your phone’s settings, scroll to Digital wellness and parental controls, and select Dashboard. Here you will see a list of applications. Tap on any app and then select App Countdown.

2. Focus mode

Think of Focus Mode as a more powerful DND (Do Not Disturb) mode where you can pause distracting programs. When turned on, apps you’ve marked as distracting will no longer be accessible. You won’t see any notifications from them either. The feature is especially useful for when you are working and only want to interact with important programs.

To use Focus Mode, go to Digital Wellbeing > Focus Mode. Check out all the apps you find annoying here. Then click the “Connect Now” button.

3. Sleep time mode

Bedtime mode silences your phone, dims the wallpaper and turns the screen black and white to help you sleep better at night. The feature is again accessible from the Digital Wellbeing app.

Use a custom launcher

minimalistic launcher download Olauncher promises to “help you with your goal of achieving digital detox and living a life free of unwanted distraction” (Image credits: Olauncher)

One of the biggest pluses of Android is the ability to change the default launcher. If Digital Wellbeing feels like too much work, a minimalist launcher will save the day. The whole point of such launchers is to make your phone look as boring as possible so that you are less tempted to use it. This involves replacing your wallpaper with a black/white background, getting rid of app icons and hiding unimportant notifications. Some of the best apps for the purpose include Indistract Minimalist Launcher, Olauncher and Ratio: Productivity Homescreen – all of which are available on the Google Play Store.

Try the Forest app

Forest Stay Focused – Apps on Google Play (Image credits: Forest)

Building a good habit doesn’t always have to be about forcing yourself to behave in a certain way. Sometimes all it needs is a little push – a little positive reinforcement. For that, Forest: Focus for Productivity is simply perfect. You plant a seed in it when you have to put your phone down to get something done. As you stay focused, the seed will grow into a tree. But if you use your phone, the tree will wither away.

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