By now most are aware of the massive amount of noise we consume on a regular basis.
On average we spend nearly 2.5 hours per day on social media, watch 3.2 hours of video per day (only counting Netflix), and allow our thumbs to scroll roughly 52 miles (just about 2 marathons).
More and more studies continue to show the negative impact screen time has on our mental health, physical health and ability (or lack thereof) to socialize with others.
True as all of this may be, social media & “binge worthy” shows do a terrifyingly good job at keeping us hooked. While watching less Netflix and limiting time on TikTok sounds good in theory, we’ve come to enjoy the quick hits they give us. It’s easy, convenient and it feels good.
While at the surface the noise may feel good, we know deep down that a certain level of consumption is not healthy. In his book, The Organized Mind - Thinking Straight in an Age of Information Overload, Daniel J. Levitin says the following:
"Our brains have the ability to process the information we take in, but at a cost: We can have trouble separating the trivial from the important, and all this information processing makes us tired."
With each scroll of the thumb our brain goes to work processing. With each new tweet, we read our mental resources get going. How much harm do we do to our work performance, devotions with the Lord and time with our family (to name a few) due to the excessive noise we ask our brain to sort through?
While there is no perfect answer, creating a healthy structure to how you approach screen time in today’s day and age is of utmost importance.
Here are the three rules I personally try to live by each day:
- Setting rules/boundaries for the phone
- Creating daily space to be silent and meditate before the Lord
- Practicing one day of Sabbath rest per week
Setting Phone Boundaries: Daily Office Hours
Here’s a question worth asking: Do you own your phone or does your phone own you? Who is really in control?
A few months ago, I found myself caught up in a handful of ongoing text threads right in the middle of the workday. I was getting stressed about needing to respond to a question when the lightbulb went off: None of this is really that important, but I am treating these responses with an implied sense of urgency that is crushing my focus and flow.
Since then, I made a point to not respond to texts (or use the phone unless absolutely necessary) from roughly 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. This block of time is when I get the best work done - and I'm trying to guard it fiercely against distractions.
A study done by the University of California, Irvine concluded that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track after being interrupted.
I also try to be offline (or at least very limited use) from 5:00 - 7:30pm. This is when I want to be as present as possible with the family. Whether making dinner, going for a walk, playing or getting the kids ready for bed, the best thing I can give them is my undivided attention. Usually the phone goes high up on a shelf in a different room where it’s out of sight and not easily accessible.
The best thing you can do is experiment and find what works best for you and your family. You can start by determine what are the most important hours of your day at work, home etc. and limit use during that time. It may be hard at first but I promise it’s worth it!
Prioritizing Intentional Time with God
This may seem pretty obvious especially considering that the Daily Kairos Journal was created for this purpose. However, how many of us are truly intentional in our time with God? Do we have a specific time every day that we give to the Lord? How do we enter into that time with Him?
When and where and how we decide to spend time with God will look different for everyone. For those of us who choose to do so first thing in the morning, here is one rule that will massively impact your quiet time: Don’t grab your phone until after you are done spending time with God.
At one point I struggled with the habit of reaching for my phone to check things before my quiet time. Since all habits either serve you or don’t, I asked myself how this was serving me? It wasn’t at all. In fact, it made it even harder to spend more focused time on the Lord.
For those that prefer online devotions this will be more challenging. I’d encourage you to find a way to either download them and stay in airplane mode, print them or find a physical devotional like My Utmost for His Highest.
Start by performing a little heart check and ask yourself if you have a habit of checking your phone before you get into the Word. If the answer is yes, ask whether or not that habit is serving you. If it’s not, give it a shot for a week. Commit to 5 days of staying off your phone until after your morning time with God. It made a huge difference in my walk and I am confident it will do the same for you!
Practice a Social Media Sabbath
“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:11
For our family, Sabbath takes place from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. It has become a gift from God that we truly cherish! God really did know we would need that day of rest so whatever day it happens to be for you, I highly encourage you to honor it.
Besides not working, we also decided to include a 24 hour pause on all social media. This means no Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc. It looks like us giving our thumbs a break and our minds a chance to be present on all that is around us.
There’s a reason why this day has become my favorite day of the week. The 24-hour rest from social media has only made it better. There is less stress, less wasted time, and more time spent praising God and being present with those we encounter.
Interestingly enough, the break from social media on that day often leads to a break from the phone & tv all together. While it may seem daunting to some, I couldn’t recommend it enough. If you’re anything like me you’ll find that a weekly pause of all things social gives your mind a much needed break, lowers your stress levels, and simply allows you to enjoy all of the tiny moments that make life so precious.
The Importance of Stilling Your Mind
If you are someone who has never struggled with being on your phone too much or if you already recognize and do something about it, I applaud you!
However, if you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship with your cellular device, I’d encourage you to try one if not all three tips above for at least a week. If you do, will you leave us a comment & let us know which one you're going to try?
The important piece is determining what works best in regards to creating a healthier daily rhythm of life. Practice, experiment and don’t worry about failing - it’s all part of the process!
At the very least just start. I promise you won’t regret it.