A Neurologist-Approved Trick For Being More Mindful Of Your Screen Time

mbg Intern By Elizabeth Della Rocca
mbg Intern
Elizabeth Della Rocca is a mindbodygreen intern and a student at Endicott College. She is studying Marketing Communication and Advertising, with a minor in Spanish. She has previously written for Mustache Agency.
Woman Working From Home on Her Laptop

Image by Kike Arnaiz / Stocksy

Whether it's attending a virtual meeting or catching up with friends online, screens are more necessary than ever right now. Sure, we're thankful for the ability to connect, but we're also struggling to sleep and focus, both potential side effects of excessive digital exposure.

That's why father-son doctor duo, board-certified neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D., and internal medicine physician Austin Perlmutter, M.D., came up with a handy trick to keep your screen time in check. The Perlmutters coined an acronym called the test of T-I-M-E, which they shared on the mindbodygreen podcast, to help us mindfully and realistically approach our technology use. 

T-I-M-E: The importance of using your time wisely and mindfully.

Have you ever opened your phone with the intention of sending an email or listening to a voicemail but instead catch yourself moments later, mindlessly scrolling through social media? If you often get lost in technology, it's helpful to go through a mental checklist in order to become more present as you scroll: 

  • Time: How much time are you willing to expend on the task? Are the sites or platforms you are spending time on imperative to completing the desired task? Having unlimited and instant access to information and other people may have you looking at your digital devices more than ever before. To monitor this, you might want to give yourself a deadline to avoid the endless scrolling, as per the scenario mentioned above. 
  • Intentional: What is the goal you are trying to accomplish while being online? Is it intentional? Having a phone or computer within arm's reach can provide you with instant gratification if you need a quick answer or confirmation. However, having them so close may also present an excuse to rely on those devices in uncomfortable situations. So think: If you find yourself scrolling, is it for a certain purpose? Or are you evading the present moment?
  • Mindfulness: Are you mindful while you are online? Are you staying on task and ignoring those constant distractions that pop up? While actively searching online, our attention may be easily interrupted by an eye-catching advertisement or that daunting notification of 317 unread emails. It is important to remain focused on the current goal, which can also lead to making better decisions and less impulsivity.  
  • Experience: Was it ultimately a positive, enriching experience? Do you feel more satisfied and accomplished once you put your phone down? Viewing each time you scroll through your phone as an experience, rather than a mindless activity, may lead you to feel less stressed and more motivated once you look up from the screen.
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The takeaway.

It is so easy to spend hours on your phone or computer and not even realize how much time has passed; that's why it's important to incorporate mindfulness into your screen time. This will ensure that your digital experience is just that—an experience rather than a mindless scroll down the page.

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