I’ve made two small changes this year that have changed my life in a big way. They’ve simplified and streamlined my day, given me back hours and hours of time, and allowed me to live more peacefully. Let’s jump right in!
1 | I deleted time-sucking apps off my phone
I deleted the Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress apps off my phone in January. Right before we left for our Disney vacation, I was cleaning up my phone to ensure that I would have enough storage for all of the videos and photos I wanted to take while we were away. Once I deleted all the random apps I’ve never used and uploaded all of my photos to Amazon Cloud Drive (affiliate link), I decided to take it a step further. I deleted three apps that are huge time and attention sucks for me in an effort to be more present throughout our trip instead of constantly scrolling through my phone.
For me, those apps were Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. I rarely use my personal Facebook account but spend quite a lot of time on my Blair Blogs Facebook Page engaging with readers and posting content. I knew I’d be tempted to respond to comments and messages if I had Facebook on my phone, so I deleted it, thinking I’d reinstall it after the trip.
Twitter was my biggest waste of time ever, ever, ever. I almost never tweeted, but I would idly scroll and scroll and scroll through hundreds of 140 character quips, rarely engaging with anyone. Time spent scrolling through Twitter was time completely squandered. I deleted that one too, again thinking I’d reinstall it afterwords.
Lastly, WordPress. WordPress is the platform my blog is hosted on, so the WordPress app allows me to write, proofread, and publish posts (though it’s hard to do on a phone), approve and respond to comments, etc. Although actually helpful, I found myself obsessively checking the WordPress app throughout the day, and decided that it was as much a waste of time as Facebook and Twitter, so it had to go too. And yep, you guessed it! I planned on reinstalling this one post-trip as well. I estimate that I spent 1-2 hours/day on these apps when they were installed on my phone; without them, I’ve gained an extra 7-14 hours a week!
It’s been nearly five months and my phone remains without Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress.
I’ve realized that spending a small amount of intentional time on Facebook and Twitter when I’m at my computer is all that’s needed to keep them afloat. Neither require the countless hours I used to dedicate to them. In fact, I’ve seen an upswing in engagement because I’m more thoughtful in my postings and responses. As far as WordPress is concerned, I spend hours on it daily anyway (on my computer blogging)–it’s unnecessary (and borderline obsessive) to spend any further time when my computer is asleep.
The ten seconds it took to delete these three apps has given me back hours and hours of time each week. I was only able to kick them off my phone under the pretense that I’d reinstall them after vacation, but the freedom that came from not carrying these platforms with me was surprisingly huge. I have no plans to reinstall any of the three.
I highly encourage you to take a look at the apps you spend the most time on and consider deleting them off your phone. You can tell yourself it’ll only be for the weekend, or for the month, or for your next vacation–but don’t be surprised if you never see them again! I was floored by how much time I was wasting and am thrilled to have reclaimed those hours.
2 | We got rid of cable
I wrote about our decision to get rid of cable in this post. As I explained, this was a major decision for us, pathetic as it is to admit. I used to love watching hours of television every night! Whereas I estimate I used to watch between 20 and 30 hours of TV a week (about three-four hours a night), I now spend a maximum of three or four hours a week in front of the TV. From 20-30 hours to 3-4. I literally regained one whole day a week! That astounds me.
I go to bed earlier, I sleep better, I read more, I get more done in the evenings. Every good thing you’ve heard as a result of someone giving up TV has happened in my life. I don’t recognize this person–I’ve been a major TV addict since high school–but I like her!
Instead of watching TV after dinner, we take longer walks, sit together and talk, fold laundry, I work on blog posts or Etsy orders or editing YouTube videos–we’re actually productive! It’s amazing how much time cable stole from us. Even after hearing dozens of stories of couples who cut cable and assured me, “you won’t miss it!” I honestly believed that, of all people, I would miss it. Let me tell you: if I don’t miss it, you won’t miss it. If I can get rid of cable, anyone can.
With Netflix and Hulu and others, you can watch what you want to watch intentionally, instead of spending so many mindless hours in front of the television. Perhaps this summer, with the warm weather and long days, would be a good time to cut cable and see how it suits you? (The money saved is a great incentive, too!)
An Extra 35 Hours/Week!
If I estimate that on the low end, I spent 27 hours/week on these apps and watching TV (7 hours on the apps + 20 hours watching TV), and 44 on the high end (14 hours on the apps + 30 hours watching TV), I have gained back, on average, 35.5 hours/week!
Y’all, that’s almost 77 reclaimed days a year. I got back over TWO MONTHS of my time. That is CRAZY! (35.5 reclaimed hours/week multiplied by 52 weeks/year divided by 24 hours/day = 76.9 reclaimed days.)
You’re entitled to spend your time however you see fit. I only encourage you to look at the time you’re spending on mindless activities, like time-sucking apps or watching TV, and calculate how many hours you’re actually squandering. I was shocked by the number of hours I could get back but cutting out just these two things. I so often hear how people “don’t have time” for this or that–and usually, it’s just not true. We all have the same number of hours in the day, it’s how we spend them that counts. The most successful people don’t have more time than you or me–they simply use it more productively.
// Have you ever cut something out of your life that’s given you back lots of time?
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kaleigh (@kaleighcomedy) says
This is awesome! A couple months ago I heard on NPR of this app that will track how much time you spend on all your apps, how many times you unlock your phone, and it even can “force” you to take breaks. It is SO interesting to see how many hours a day I spend on my phone! I’ve used the info to cut back and only pick it up if I’m actually going to do something productive. I did have to “ignore” apps like Waze and music ones, but it’s really great.
Blair Lamb says
That’s so cool!! I had no idea how much time I spent on my phone until this little experiment! I had something like the app you described installed on my laptop in college…I forget what it was called, but I would blacklist all social media sites (or any sites I didn’t have time for) for a certain period of time and I couldn’t get on them! It helped me keep my grades up and stay focused! 😉 Thanks for your comment, Kaleigh! xo
Mrs. Rooks says
It’s absolutely ridiculous, and quite scary, and addicting technology can be and you don’t even realize you’re addicted to it. There’s so many times that I find myself clicking on my home button just because, or unlocking my phone, looking around, with no intention. I’ve been trying so hard to be better! I also find it crazy how time flies when you’re on social media. I’ll check instagram/facebook for what feels like 20 minutes, and all of a sudden it’s been an hour! Those numbers add up to something quite scary and real. Maybe it’s time I finally delete those apps too! Thanks for doing all the math and leading the way, Blair!
Blair Lamb says
It IS ridiculous and scary to see how addicting technology can be! If you delete some apps, let me know how it goes! 🙂
Bailey @ Becoming Bailey says
I didn’t delete social media from my phone entirely, but I disabled notifications so I’m not tempted to pop onto Facebook or Instagram when I get a “like.” It’s been incredibly helpful in being intentional with my time! I’m also setting an alarm on my phone for when I read blogs + browse social media so I don’t get caught in the “time suck.”
Blair Lamb says
Setting an alarm when you browse social media is SO, SO smart! I’m going to implement that. Thanks for sharing, Bailey! Xo
Emily Moloney says
I know this sounds pathetic, but I literally don’t know what I would do with my extra time back! I guess read or clean or take walks? I don’t feel busy at night and honestly they (apps and TV though I don’t have cable either) help me pass through the wake up-work-eat-sleep routine. Does anyone else feel this way? What can we do to shake up our routines and do more that is worthwhile?
Blair Lamb says
I used to feel that way, too. You’d be surprised though. When you’re not numbing your mind with your phone or TV, you’ll notice that your heart is drawn to what makes you feel alive. I know that sounds really weird and “woo-woo,” but it’s true. Some nights, I feel inclined to take a long walk with my dog. Some nights, I feel inclined to bake. Some nights, I call a friend from college. Some nights, I work or clean. Some nights, I read or take a bath. When I listen to my heart and do what I need to refresh my mind, body, and spirit, I feel much more refreshed than I ever did when I was numbing my mind thoughtlessly. Again, I know that sounds pretty “out there,” but I’d encourage you to give it a try. I think you’ll surprise yourself! 😉 You also may feel inclined to start a new project or try a new hobby, both of which can be big happiness boosters! Best of luck to you, Emily! Hope you don’t mind my little pep talk!
Ashley Chason says
I think that is a great point, Blair, and not too out there at all! The same thinking could also be applied to over-scheduling your life in general. I love the idea of leaving time for whatever your heart is drawn to do. Although mindlessly scrolling through social media or apps might have a worse effect than scheduled activities.