I'm an American expat, writer,Youtuber, photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.

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HELENAW

Hello, my friend! Welcome back to the blog!

On my slow living journey, one of the biggest time wasters and mood killers that affected my experience learning how to live a slow lifestyle was social media. It’s no secret that I’ve dealt with a lot of negative social media comparison in years past. From comparing my “success” to others’ success, desperately wishing I could travel to as many places as travel photographers on assignment were….or just simply getting lost down a rabbit hole of Facebook links, Youtube videos, and the Explore tab on Instagram, I’ve been through it all.

But choosing to live a life of intention, simplicity, and gratitude comes with some much-needed boundaries.

On the blog in the past, I’ve shared several practical ways to help me navigate comparison online, but in today’s post, I want to share the 5 ways that I actually reduce screen time and social media use today!

I use Instagram for 20 minutes a day. Some days I don’t even look at my phone. While at first, it was a difficult habit to put in place, today it feels like the easiest, most natural way to live, and I can’t believe I never adopted these habits sooner!

All the time wasted! So much of my youth gone!

Today my life has never been more simple. I’ve never felt more appreciative. And it’s in LARGE part to having a strict routine with my phone.

So to all my fellow social media lovers, here are the 5 ways that I actually reduce screen time and social media use in my everyday!

girl on phone trying to reduce screen time and social media use

1. Set Morning Routine Habits

Put your phone on Airplane mode

If you sleep with your phone in your bedroom, try putting your phone on airplane mode each evening before falling asleep. Waking up to a blank screen with no notifications is such a refreshing, clear wake to start your brand new day on Earth! It also serves as a subtle reminder to not start scrolling first thing upon waking up. 

Life is so precious. Starting our brand new day staring at a screen isn’t the most vibrant way to celebrate this life.

5 Minute Connection Break

Upon waking up, start your day fresh with five to ten minutes of meditation before turning off Airplane Mode. I like to use the app Insight Timer every morning!

When I do go onto Instagram, it’s to batch post. I enjoy taking photos and videos on my phone, and then at one point in the day, I will share it all on Instagram stories and post on the good ol’ grid in one final swoop. That way, I’m more efficient and not wasting time on other projects.

Log Out

At the end of each night, I intentionally log out of Instagram and make sure not to “remember password.” It’s a simple way to block yourself from unconsciously clicking onto your app and scrolling. One subtle barrier os 

2. Clean Up Your Phone Apps

Get rid of apps you don’t need! Apps that aren’t absolutely essential or necessary to your everyday routine don’t belong on your phone where you’ll have easy access to mindlessly scroll them. Instead, use a desktop to view those social media sites. I use my laptop to check in with Facebook Groups (I personally don’t have a personal Facebook account as I permanently deleted it in 2019!) as well as with Youtube. I also don’t receive any notifications on my phone, aside from missed phone calls and some of my favorite YouTubers.

  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Facebook
  • Youtube
  • Pinterest

3. Set a Time Limit 

Under “Settings,” you can set a screen limit that will automatically log you out of apps after a certain time! This has been a major game changer for me. But it’s easy to click “ignore” and keep on scrolling! So try this next tip…

4. Before logging in, take 3 deep breaths

Breathing really helps to center and connect ourselves with our inner guidance system. When we take a deep breath, we naturally ground ourselves. When we intentionally take a few moments to breathe a few inhales and exhales, we’re better able to clear our minds and focus on what really matters in this present moment.

After taking a few breaths, make your decision and take action on the messages your inner voice is asking you to do. 

Maybe you’re meant to take action elsewhere with work or maybe you’re inner voice wants you to delight yourself in tuning out the world for a few more minutes and scroll a few pretty Instagram grids! 

5. Have a list nearby of other tasks you could be doing instead 

We’re going to feel resistance when we start taking adopting new lifestyle habits. It’s natural for new routines and habits to make us feel a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. So, to make sure we stay aligned with our new intention of spending less time on our screens, we need to create a way to make the process easier!

For me, that looks like writing a list on a post-it note of tasks I could be doing instead. These are tasks that would better serve me or make me feel more joyful, appreciative and present in that moment! For me, I often like to have a few different options nearby on my desk and within eyesight. 

You can also get an accountability partner!

Maybe it’s a colleague or a friend that you’ve just recently met, but find someone who is also working on a similar habit and set a time once per week to check-in with one another on your progress! Maybe give yourself a special treat every weekend for the first month of successfully following through on your new habit. 

Set an Intention With Your Screen Time

The best way to actually reduce screen time is to set an intention and question your motives. Every time you log into social media, before checking in, ask yourself, “What am I hoping to get from this right now?”

None of what I’ve shared translates to not ever looking at your phone. Not at all! If you’ve had a long day and want to tune out for a while, by all means, go for it! I feel ya.

But go into social media with that intention of “I need to tune out for 20 minutes.” And then set a timer on it, so you don’t waste your precious day of life!

How I Actually Reduce Screen Time and Use Social Media

As a photographer and content creator, social media is not just a hobby for me. It’s also part of my job. Showing up on social media, sharing my life and my client photography work is an aspect of working for myself as a freelance creative artist. 

For me, treating Instagram as a facet of my online business means that I always keep my phone on my desk. I keep my charger near my desk, and I post at my desk. 

Simply by sitting at my desk and having an allotted 20-minute time slot to share and be on Instagram subconsciously aids me in treating and approaching social media as “work time.” And sharing on Instagram happens during my business hours. 

I also don’t follow many people on social media, not because I’m pretentious or holier-than-thou, but because as a writer and creative storyteller, I have to keep my mind clear. It’s essential that the ideas and concepts and visuals that I create and share online come from an organic, honest and original place. 

As content creators, every time we follow an influencer or teacher we admire, we subconsciously and unknowingly resonate and take in their teachings and then repackage and share them for our own viewers. 

But I want my ideas to be my own. And often my best ideas come from being alone out in nature, meditating, journaling, and keeping my own mind clear. 

Because of this, I don’t follow many people and the creators I do enjoy, I set a time limit on how long I can consume their content. 

“Comparison is a brutal assault on oneself.”

I also avoid accounts that don’t make me feel good! Seriously, it’s the easiest, most obvious tip but….only follow people you actually like!

Stop wasting your time and energy-absorbing content from people you don’t honestly appreciate. If you’re secretly jealous of someone’s life and are still choosing to consume their daily content every day, why are you doing that to yourself?

If you’re snark-following someone, seriously stop it. Stop hurting yourself.

Use social media with intention. Use that time to follow people that make you feel appreciative. Follow people that make you laugh or those that help you see the good! Life is too short not to.

Your time is your life. How much time you spend on social media is how you’ve spent this one, singularly important and magnificent life.

Treat it well. And treat yourself well. <3

Alright, that’s enough tough love for today(enneagram number 7w8)! I hope my tips on how to actually reduce screen time and social media use help you out just a little!

Hugs!

Helena 🙂

Follow My Slow Life in France

Curious for more words from me? I am starting a small email list for those joyful spirits who’d like to receive love notes from me directly via email about slow living and simple joys here! Once every few weeks, I’ll send an email about the small appreciations and quiet delight I’m noticing and learning about in the world and hopefully spread that joy, light and goodness on to you! 🙂 

Join My Email List to Receive Love Notes here!

If you’d like to watch more of my films on slow living and my intentional life in France, feel free to follow along via Youtube and subscribe to the Simple Joys channel!

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5 Ways that I ACTUALLY Reduce Screen Time and Social Media Use

September 14, 2020

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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