Photo Cred: @JennaKutcher

The latest iOS came out with a feature tracking how much screen time you use. It tells you exactly how many hours per day as well as what apps you spend the most time on. There is no doubt that excessive screen time can negatively impact your psyche (and your productivity!), but let’s look at both sides of the coin…Guilty Pleasure or Liberating Tool?

On the “Guilty Pleasure” side, let’s review some of the BEST apps we all love to hate:

Instagram:  This has to be number one.  In the past couple of years, Instagram has grown its following exponentially and is consistently listed in the top 5 social media apps.  Owned by Facebook, IG let’s you scroll your way through others’ lives.  Whether it’s close friends, celebs or people you don’t actually know, Instagram allows the user to become a voyeur for those you follow.  Come on?  Who doesn’t like to sit in bed at night and scroll though your feed or stories to see what your favorite IG personalities are up to!  It can certainly be addicting and you have to be VERY aware of your consumption to make sure it is healthy and not harmful.

Facebook:  Despite political and legal trouble Mark Zuckerberg sure knows what he is doing when it comes to dominating the world.  Millennials might argue that Facebook is passé, but with over 2 billion users perusing the Book each month, it’s hardly anything but!  Facebook is still used by many to post about their social lives, but also used for business purposes, selling goods and services, hosting events, sharing live moments, etc.  And for those of you who feel like this is your favorite soap box to just shout your opinions…it is still an option.

YouTube: If you want to know how to do ANYTHING, YouTube is your jam!  Want to learn how to do a smoky eye?  Or how to balance your checkbook?  Or find a killer workout?  YouTube!  It’s also quite addicting and easy to get caught up in the never ending videos of cats flushing toilets, but if you need to learn something quick and for free, YouTube is the way to go.

Text Messaging Apps: Whether it’s Messenger, WhatsApp, or just “messages” on your phone, text messaging has become both a “Guilty Pleasure” and “Liberating Tool” all at the same time.  While text messaging makes it easier to communicate with more people virtually any time of day, it can also be highly distracting and cause an unnecessary sense of urgency.  Additionally, when texting replaces ACTUAL human interaction, you have to put your phone down and have a REAL LIFE conversation with those you love in your life!

But let’s talk about the “Liberating Tool” aspects of screen time:

PodCasts: You might not have time to read the news on a daily basis or read non-fiction books that improve your skill set or mindset, but listening to PodCasts while driving or on a walk or while at work is a great tool to sharpen your mind.  PodCasts are free and available on literally every topic!  What a great resource to widen your knowledge base one episode at a time.

Spotify: For a nominal monthly subscription, you can have access to practically any music you would like to listen to.  Music is beneficial for so many reasons…whether you need a “pump-up” song for your favorite workout or something peaceful as you are falling asleep, Spotify covers it all.  And since it’s all in once place you can be more efficient and also save money on purchasing new albums on a regular basis.

Grocery IQ: One of our favorite apps for streamlining the grocery list!  The best feature is that it can be used by multiple people who can all add to the lists (and also take away when using) so if you are the one to use up the last of the Almond Milk, next time your partner is at the store he will see it on the list (assuming you remembered to put it on there!).

One Note: If you have Microsoft 365 you have access to One Note, but if not, there are several other note-taking apps out there.  The beauty of keeping your notes digitally is that YOU ALWAYS HAVE YOUR PHONE WITH YOU!  And since the notes sync with the cloud, you can access them from all of your devices.  When you are at a meeting and you need to take notes, you can type them here.  When you are at coffee with your girlfriend and she recommends a new book, you can keep them here.  Whatever you need to keep track of, the notes will be at your fingertips so you never forget.

We could go on and on with app recommendations.  The bottom line is that you need to think about HOW you are utilizing the apps and the amount of time you spend on screens in relation to the rest of your life.  If you find yourself at dinner with friends and all you are doing is scrolling the Gram…PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN!  But if you are using it in a productive manner to promote your business, communicate with friends and family out of town, keep lists, learn new skills, etc, clearly it has value.

As with any media, you have to be aware of your consumption and how it is affecting your overall perspective.  If you are feeling anxious or bad about yourself when you find yourself scrolling too often, limit your time so you don’t play the comparison game.  Life is all about choices and we all have control over what choices we make.  Hopefully, this provides some good perspective when it comes to your relationship with your phone and your screen time.