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10 things that will help you cut down on screen time

Finally, get your phone off your back.

10 things that will help you cut down on screen time Credit: Getty Images / SDI Productions

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Does anyone else feel personally victimized by their smartphone? As I spend more time at home in social isolation, it feels like every week I get a new report that my screen time has increased. Not great. But between responding to texts to stay connected with friends and family to mindlessly scrolling through social media to downloading a ton of games to pass the time (curse you, Stardew Valley), it makes sense that my screen time has steadily increased.

While finding ways to keep ourselves entertained isn’t necessarily a bad thing, studies have shown that the blue light emitted by these screens can disrupt sleep patterns and that both games and social media can be addictive. Personally, I’ve been feeling like I could make better use of my spare time—and thankfully there are a few products to help us keep our hands off our phone.

From simple things like an alarm clock to technology that will help you use less technology, I’ve rounded up 10 things that will keep your hands off your phone—so hopefully we can all be a little more productive.

1. A Kindle for easy reading

Kindle
Credit: Reviewed / Michael Roorda

Read before bed and reduce blue light.

Reading before bed is my go-to for reducing blue light before bed. Seriously, it puts me right to sleep. I prefer to read on a Kindle because it has a seemingly unlimited library and I don’t have to worry about lugging a large book with me. The Kindle Paperwhite is the best e-reader we’ve ever tested as it has an incredible interface and it’s waterproof. Although it technically has a screen, the Paperwhite mimics reading a book with e-ink display, as well as various levels of illumination and background colors to put less strain on your eyes.

Get the Kindle Paperwhite at Amazon for $114.99

2. An alarm clock to keep your phone out of your room

Philips Wake Up Light
Credit: Philips

Wake up with the sunrise.

Many of us use our phones as our alarm, which makes it tempting to use right before bed or, worse, you wind up playing a game after checking the time when you wake up in the middle of the night (guilty as charged). An easy solution: Get an actual alarm clock. That way you can charge up your phone in another room, and can still check the time to actually get some rest. One of my coworkers loves her Philips Wake Light because it mimics the sunlight, which makes it easier for her to get up in the morning.

Get the Philips Wake-Up Light at Walmart for $112.89

3. A knitting kit to keep your hands busy

We Are Knitters
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

This relaxing activity is way better than social media swiping.

Trying to keep your hands busy with something other than your phone? Try knitting. It’s a relaxing hobby (always good in a stressful time) and you’ll get a homemade creation out of it. For beginners, I recommend learning with a knitting kit like We Are Knitters. I tried a few kits out for myself and was impressed by how clear the directions were and how high quality the wool is. It made re-learning how to knit attainable, and could be a great hobby to pick up.

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Get a knitting kit at We Are Knitters

4. A smartwatch to quickly check notifications

Apple Watch
Credit: Reviewed / Simon Hill

Check your notifications and move on.

Yes, I know, it’s another screen. But, a smartwatch is a small screen that can actually keep you from pulling out your cell phone. Instead of going down a rabbit hole of social media or other apps after answering a text, you can just program your smartwatch to only show you important notifications, so you can quickly respond and move on. The Apple Watch Series 5 is currently our favorite smartwatch for its always-on display and incredible fitness tracking. After trying it, we loved that you can choose which notifications you want to receive, which should make cutting down your screen time even easier.

Get the Apple Watch Series 5 GPS, 40mm at Walmart for $299

5. An intricate puzzle to occupy your time

Puzzle
Credit: Getty Images

A challenging puzzle is just as rewarding as a phone game.

It seems like everyone is doing puzzles nowadays. Not only are they challenging, but they give you a chance to use your brain instead of swiping on your phone. Instead of taking a five-minute social media break, take a five-minute puzzle break—hopefully, you can get one or two pieces in that time. Puzzles can be harder to come by, but you can still find some intricate options online.

6. A fidget spinner to play with instead of our phones

PopSockets
Credit: PopSockets

This grip doubles as a fidget spinner.

Part of the reason we’re on our phones so much is out of habit. It’s easy to reach for your device and start scrolling—even when you have more pressing things to do. A fidget spinner is an easy way to keep your hands busy, and PopSocket makes a PopGrip that doubles as a fidget spinner, so you can fidget away the next time you reach for your phone. When we tried it for ourselves we found that it was fun to use, though it made a noticeable whizzing sound that can be distracting to some.

Get the PopGrip Backspin Eye in the Sky at PopSockets for $20

7. An adult coloring book

Coloring Book
Credit: Amazon

Color in—or outside—the lines.

Coloring isn’t just for kids. It’s a relaxing activity that might make you feel better than watching people bake bread on Instagram. This adult coloring book is a best-seller and is full of enchanting designs of mandalas, animals, flowers, and more. These images will look good—even if you decide to color outside the lines.

Get the Adult Coloring Book by Cindy Elsharouni at Amazon for $6.40

8. A planner to jot down your notes and goals

Panda Planner
Credit: Panda Planner

Get more productive and organized.

I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly filling my notes with random thoughts, ideas, and to-do lists—which typically has me lingering on an app or two right after. Instead, a physical planner could help you stay organized and actually remember that you wrote something down. The undated Panda Planner is a popular option that has daily, weekly, and monthly sections designed to help prioritization and reflection. You’ll also get access to courses on improving productivity and cutting down on procrastination with your purchase.

Get the Panda Planner Daily Planner on Amazon for $19.97

9. A smart speaker to answer all your questions

Google Nest
Credit: Google

This small speaker can answer your most random questions.

Most of the time, I’m opening my devices to look up the most random things: the weather, if dogs intentionally wag their tails, how to complete a quest in Animal Crossing, and the like. Oftentimes that leads me down a deep hole of searching. But a smart speaker can quickly answer all your burning questions sans phone, which can help stop the rabbit hole in its tracks. After trying a variety of smart speakers, we found that the Google Assistant is the best one to use conversationally.

Get the Nest Mini (2nd Generation) with Google Assistant at Best Buy for $29.99

10. An app that limits your phone use

Moment
Credit: Getty Images / Moment

This app can help regulate your screen time.

If you're really struggling with not using your phone, there’s an app for that. For example, Moment tracks how much you use your phone or tablet each day and lets you set daily limits on certain apps. There’s also a “Moment Family” option, which allows you to track your family's usage—and even set limits during dinner or homework time.

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