I’ve recently been struggling with severe, debilitating headaches.
The pain got so bad, I was willing to try anything.
I made sure I was drinking enough water. I took paracetamol. I put cold flannels on my neck and forehead. I went outside for fresh air. I lay in a dark room. I stretched. I tried herbal tea. I wore blue-light-blocking glasses. And of course, I started to limit screen-time.
This last one has proven quite difficult. As a blogger, I’m usually either on my laptop or on my phone… or both at the same time.
Researching, writing, editing, scheduling, promoting – a blogger’s life is tech-heavy and screen-time quickly adds up.
I’ve half-heartedly tried to reduce my screen-time before but my heart was never in it. However, this time, my body decided it wasn’t up for debate.
How would I manage my blog on limited screen-time? Is it all about to go to shit, after everything I’ve put into it?
I started mentally listing all the screen-based tasks that I couldn’t cut out; all the things that absolutely had to be done on a laptop or phone. The list grew and grew.
Another flash of pain exploded in my head and I threw down my phone.
Time to switch focus: What could I do to reduce my screen-time?
Maybe a certain amount of screen-time is unavoidable in blogging, but where could I find even the slightest wiggle-room? I had some ideas.
Firstly, I could draft my blog posts on paper. Sure, it would seem to add an extra step in the writing process but it actually wouldn’t. Having everything written out before opening my laptop would reduce the unnecessary amount of time I spend looking at the screen while formulating sentences in my head. Plus, I’m always talking about how I own too many empty notebooks – this gives me a reason to use them.
Another idea I had was to limit how often I check my emails. I’d fallen into the habit of checking my inbox pretty much hourly. Thinking about it logically, reducing this to even three or four times a day would have no negative effect on my being contactable and responsive, but could have a positive effect on reducing my unnecessary screen-time.
Similar to this, I moved all of my social media apps into one “Socials” folder on my phone. I often pick up my phone and open Twitter or Pinterest without even thinking about it. I end up scrolling for ages before it even dawns on me that I didn’t intend to even go on that platform when I picked up my phone.
Adding this extra layer means that it makes me stop and think about which app I am looking for and it’s almost like a mental pop-up flashes in front of me: Did you really want to open that app? More often than not, the answer is no, so I don’t. My use of social media has been condensed to a few interactions per day and honestly, it feels kinda good. I feel like the interactions I have now are valuable – either in terms of my blog or even just personally. I’m more selective about how and with what I engage and don’t waste my time or energy doom-scrolling.
Lastly, I took a look at things I could be doing outside of my blog that don’t involve looking at a screen. As a blogger, I have to have some screen-time – I can’t really avoid that. But when taking stock of my screen-time in general, I found that if I was totally honest, I was also spending a hell of a lot of my non-blog-related time staring at screens too.
Whether it was keeping Twitter open “just in case” or watching YouTube videos under the pretence of “research”, I had abandoned pretty much all of my non-tech hobbies in favour of my screens.
I used to love colouring books, painting, journaling, writing poetry, even knitting, but I hadn’t done any of these in ages. So I pulled out my colouring book and pens and had a go. A good hour passed and I realised I felt calm. I hadn’t missed my screens at all.
When I checked them, nothing of note had happened. I hadn’t missed anything.
I’m not exactly shunning all technology and heading for the hills…
… At least, not yet (watch this space).
And I’m probably never going to be one of those mythical people who can go days, weeks, months without using the internet.
Nevertheless, I am going to start making more deliberate, considered decisions about how, when, and for how long I’m looking at screens and disappearing into the internet. I think these small changes are going to have positive effects on my life.
My blog is important to me, but excruciating headaches are no fun. So something’s gotta give, right?
I’ll keep you updated… at some point, anyway. 😉
How do you manage your screen-time? Maybe you have your own tips and tricks for a better screen life balance? Let me know in the comments!