I admit. I get sidetracked easily. When I’m thick into coding I focus quite well, but when I’m jumping around from chat to email to news alerts, time can fly out the window. If someone sends me a DM on Instagram... game over. Of course I have to see it, it is probably something funny.

Two days ago I explored the Screen Time feature in iOS. It is located in the Settings of the phone. What I figured would fit my lifestyle most was the Downtime option. I set the downtime from 9am to 6pm. Between these hours certain apps will be “blocked” for use. It also allows you to select the days you want it turned on for so I selected Monday to Friday.

Selecting which apps to restrict is easy. There are general collections of apps to select which apps you want to be restricted from, but they are grouped inconveniently my purposes. For example, I want Telegram but I don’t want Instagram and those are grouped together in Social. So I had to go a bit more custom.

I went to the option that says: Always Allowed. I checked off all my work related apps: Telegram, Mail, Gmail, Bear, and server anything related to work. I also allowed anything else I would need that aren’t normally time wasters like the app my gym uses. What I left restricted were Instagram, Facebook, News, Flipboard and other apps I find I get sidetracked on. Phone calls are always allowed.

With this all set up, between 9 and 6pm the apps I did not add to the allow list show darker, have an hourglass next to the name, and do not show any alerts or badges. Sweet.

Now because I’m an adult, and I think I can stick to my own rules, I didn’t set a passcode. Plus if I set it, I would know it, so that defeats the purpose. If you wanted to enforce these restrictions for a child let’s say, you can lock it so you your kids can’t override the settings. This gives you full control over the time your kids spend on the phone, restricting usage after bedtime form example.

Without a passcode, I do have to practise some willpower. If I tap on a locked app, a message comes up saying override for 15 minutes or override for the day. I do find myself tapping the 15 minutes on occasion but I am less distracted not getting notifications and I actually went the entire day today without visiting Instagram until after 6pm.

Now for those wanting to limit something like game play, you can actually set a limit by game, app or an entire category like Games for example. So you could potentially limit game play to 1 hour a day and when it gets close to the end of that hour a notification gets sent so the user can wrap up and then the game is locked. Personally, I think I’m too dependant on my phone, work aside, and I think kids probably are too!

If I was in control of a little human, I would probably make them earn their screen time by doing chores, then every morning I would set how much time they have earned on their device. More valuable than money!

I will see how this goes and report back. After a full day of use, my usage is down but last week was not a normal week with me being in Australia. So we’ll see how it normalizes.

Also, take some time to explore the Screen Time setting. There is some interesting data including the number of notifications, how many times you pick up your phone, and what app you go to first after picking up your phone! If anything, it could be a shock to your system to see how much time you actually are looking at your device!