Home Tech ‘I’m back!’: how Guardian readers reclaimed their brains and cut their screen times by 40%

‘I’m back!’: how Guardian readers reclaimed their brains and cut their screen times by 40%

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‘I’m back!’: how Guardian readers reclaimed their brains and cut their screen times by 40%

It’s been almost three months since the Guardian launched the Reclaim your brain newsletter – a free five-week email coaching plan for anyone who wants to spend less time on their phone.

Since then, more than 100,000 readers have signed up, making it the fastest growing newsletter we’ve ever launched. (If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to Reclaim your brain whenever you want – you still get the same weekly plan as everyone else.)

So far, the feedback we’ve received from readers has been overwhelmingly positive, with many saying they sleep better, feel less anxious, read more, pursue new hobbies, and are more attentive to their children.

Nearly 250 of you were contacted about your progress after we sent out a completion survey. Here’s what you told us:

Overall, readers reduced their screen time by almost 40%

We asked subscribers to tell us how many hours per day they spent on their phone before and after completing the Reclaim your brain coaching plan.

The result? They reduced their collective screen time by 38%, saving almost 127,000 hours each year between them.

“I feel like a fog has lifted and, for the first time in years, I can account for every moment of my day – nothing was spent mindlessly scrolling past,” said Felipe in Northern Ireland. “I read more, watched more movies and also started cooking more, which was a big hit with my wife! »

Some subscribers have seen huge drops in their screen time

While the average decrease in screen time was 38%, some Reclaim your brain subscribers went even further.

Hussain Ali, a 45-year-old reader based in London, says he spent nine hours a day on his phone before signing up. He has now managed to reduce his daily screen time to just two hours. “I think it was just the push I needed,” he said. “I now feel like I have time in the evenings and weekends to do something instead of scrolling for two or three hours and wondering where the time went.”

Meanwhile, a project manager in Boston (who asked to remain anonymous) went from spending more than 10 hours a day on the phone to three. “I feel much happier – some days are only 2.5 hours long and I notice a difference in my mood, perception of the free time I have and my intentionality,” she said.

“I read more books, do more housework and sleep better. I pay more attention to the things I’m supposed to do, whether it’s watching TV, eating dinner, or contributing to meetings.

Many now have more time for their hobbies

Charlotte Conlin, an Oregon-based subscriber who describes herself as “a retired woman in her 60s, avid knitter, crazy cat mom, and failed domestic diva,” says she now has more time for her favorite activities after reducing her screen time from seven hours a day to four hours.

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“I was dismayed when I saw how many hours I spent on my ‘cuddle pad,’ as my husband likes to call it,” she said. “I had no idea how much time I had lost. But now I have more time to knit and craft. I have fully present conversations with my spouse and slowly regain my focus and clarity.

Charlotte also says that she was able to rediscover the pleasure of doing nothing. “I’m starting to enjoy something I did before smartphones; sit and look out the window, let my mind wander and dream. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me get my life and time back.

Meanwhile, Annemarie, a 29-year-old doctoral student in Germany, says she went from three hours a day on the phone to one. “I worked out, played the piano and did nothing – like I literally did nothing,” she said. “I feel much better, less dependent on my phone and more in control of my life.”

Guardian writer Rhik Samadder’s shutdown diary helped one reader in particular

Rhik’s journal, which is included at the end of every Reclaim your brain email, provided some much-needed inspiration to a reader. During the first week, Rhik despairs over his phone, calling it the “thief of his life.” This resonated with Melissa Griffin, a 53-year-old Australian student, who managed to reduce her screen time from eight hours a day to two thanks to such “existential questions.”

“I am no longer a thief in my life!” ” she wrote. “I am more present with the people in my life. I make choices instead of blaming the phone for my habits. I can now study – that was my goal. Academic reading is possible! I was afraid my attention span had been destroyed by my phone. Reading Rhik Samadder’s weekly accounts was a wonderful part of this series. I gained so much more than just being able to do my readings and academic assessments. I’m back!”

Subscribers reported feeling less anxious

“I think spending less time on my phone also contributed to my anxiety,” wrote Birgit, a 22-year-old law student based in Vienna, who reduced her screen time from eight hours a day to three. “I feel like it was at its worst moment of doomscrolling and wanting to stop, but I feel like I can’t. Plus, not always seeing everyone on Instagram presenting the best version of their life is also good for my mental health.

Victoria, a subscriber based in Scotland, has seen similar benefits. “I feel less anxiety about using my phone and have stopped carrying it with me all the time,” they said. “I no longer have it in the bedroom and I don’t use it as an alarm clock. I feel like I’m in control of my phone use – I use it for work without getting caught up in mindless scrolling.

Some parents found the report card helped them be more attentive to their children

“What surprises me the most is how much I used to spend on my phone,” wrote Panu Huotari, a 44-year-old Finnish subscriber, who reduced his screen time from five hours a day to one hour. “Time spent with my children is now truly time with them, where I am present and not constantly checking to see what might be happening elsewhere. I got out more, had better conversations with people, and felt much more inspired, happier, loving, and caring.

Meanwhile, Kieran Healy, a Vancouver-based construction manager in his 40s, said: “I can engage more with my son. I get up more easily in the morning. My battery lasts all day – before having to fully charge it throughout the day! »

A reader replaced her screen time with a different type of tweet

Shelly, a 46-year-old subscriber based near Stroud in the UK, has halved her daily screen time from four hours to two, and says she’s managed to find a pleasant replacement among some of the TV’s winged guests. House. “I started feeding the birds by my kitchen window the moment I signed up for the trainers’ newsletter,” she said. “Having never fed birds before, I was surprised by the joy that the little winged visitors bring – and I compare this joy to the same dose of dopamine that a like on social media provides.

“Now I look forward to the birds stimulating my brain. I love it. I’m also definitely spending more time with my daughter, totally focused and not on my phone, it’s been very rewarding.

Have you completed the newsletter and noticed a greater drop in your screen time? Let us know by taking our survey here.

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