5 ways to reduce screen time and enjoy a digital detox this January

The start of a new year is a great opportunity to set new boundaries when it comes to your phone

digital detox
(Image credit: Sergiy Tryapitsyn / Alamy Stock Photo)

If a digital detox is on your new year's resolution list in 2024, then you've most likely started cutting down on screen time already. It's certainly easier said than done, especially in this day on age, so you should be proud if you've made the plunge. However, whilst many of us are aware that we're spending too much time online, it's not always something we take action on.  

In recent survey conducted by Mobile Phones Direct, it was revealed that Brits spend an average of three hours a day on their phones. With this in mind, it's no surprise that many people start to think about changing their phone habits, especially at the start of a new year. 

To find out more, I spoke to Dan Melia from Mobile Phones Direct, who shared his practical tips on how to reduce screen time and have a successful digital detox this January. If you're struggling with staying motivated when working from home or even in pain from the dreaded tech neck, we'd strongly recommend you taking a step back and considering a digital detox. Keep reading to find out how to start...

1. Check screen time 

Checking your screen time in your settings can allow you to gauge how much time you are spending per day and help you set some boundaries if you feel like it's taking up too much of your day. 

Start by setting up alerts on your phone that tell you when you have hit your daily screen time allowance, helping you to be more selective about how and when you are using your phone. You can do this through your Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls in your phone’s settings. Start by clicking on App Limits and select which apps you would like to control and adding a set time limit. 

2. Do not disturb! 

Using Do Not Disturb and setting up daily habits can also help reduce your screen time. For example, if you have an iPhone, you can set up different automations for your notification centre, such as Work, which limits notifications during your working day, and Sleep, which automates your alarm and turns off notifications from your bedtime until wake-up time. You can do this by going to Settings > Focus

3. Mute app notifications  

For communication apps such as WhatsApp, you can mute notifications for certain time periods. This can help when you need to focus or you want to give yourself a break from your phone. You can do this in WhatsApp by opening the specific group chat you would like to mute, click the menu and select a duration you would like to mute the notifications for. 

4. Hide your phone away  

Another simple way to reduce screen time is by leaving your phone in a designated area when you are working or in the house, so you don’t have the urge to pick it up when it is right next to you. Putting it in another room may help with this so it isn’t in a convenient location to just pick up and scroll through.

If you struggle with this, you may find productivity apps really useful. There's one called Forest that allows you to virtually plant a tree whenever you want to stay focused, and your tree will continue to grow as long as you stay on the app. If you leave the app halfway through, your tree will then die and you'll have to start again. 

It's quite a simple concept, but the app has partnered with a real-tree-planting organisation, Trees for the Future, to plant real trees on Earth. The more trees you grow in the app, the more the Forest team donates to the organisation who create planting orders. Your productivity is therefore contributing to the environment, which is pretty cool!

5. Downgrade your phone

It may seem a little drastic, but have you ever considered eliminating any distractions by downgrading your smartphone? It's shocking how many apps distract us from our daily lives, so replacing your phone with a phone that cannot support apps is a great idea. You'll still be able to be contacted by friends and family, and it'll help your motivation. It's a win-win!

If you want to focus on your wellbeing but not sure that a digital detox is the way to go, why don't you check out the the 5 free wellness apps that should be on your phone

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.