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Gain 13 Hours of Time Back by Tracking Your Cell Phone Usage

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

While getting my education on in my mobile university, I heard a podcaster recommend an app called Quality Time to help me keep track of my cell phone usage. [1] With a new baby on the way and after talking with a number of well-seasoned parents, I’m coming to the realization that my free time is about to take a drastic hit.

Free Time is Often Wasted

In the words of my office-mate and father of two, giving him instant parental street-cred, “Ha! You don’t think you have free time now? Just wait until you have kids, then you’ll know how much free time you’ve wasted.” I’m fairly certain this comment is spot on–and quite frankly, it’s a bit terrifying.

Do I really have a bunch of free time? How am I going to cram it all in once I have a child?... and a number of other questions about how my leisure time was about to disappear once I became a parent arose.

After coming to the conclusion that my office-mate is right, I probably do waste a great deal of time, I set out to identify the areas of my life that were using precious time but not adding value.

Quality Time App Helps with Data Tracking

That’s where the app Quality Time came into play. [1] I knew I’d been wasting a tremendous amount of time on my phone, but I didn’t know how much. So, I decided to use the app for a couple of months to look at my usage.* Here’s what I found:

*Of note, there’s no monetary incentive for lifestyleismedicinedoc to recommend this app. It’s simply a tool that we found useful and, even better, it’s free.

Cell Phone Screen Time Each Week:

Holy crap! I’ve been spending close to 30 hours per week on my phone. That’s nearly 4 hours per day. Given these numbers are a bit inflated as the app takes into account the time spent using google maps/waze as screen time, but it’s still a striking number.

Weekly App Usage:

Let’s take a deep dive into how this time was allocated each day by evaluating my most indulgent week where I spent 38 hours on my phone.

8 Hours of Deepening Relationships with Others

Despite spending 8 hours chatting on the phone, I don’t consider this to be an over-indulgent amount of time. Since most of my family and friends live in different states, this is one way that I use to connect and continue to deepen my relationships with others. For me, this is time is time well-spent.

8 Hours of News Consumption

8 hours were spent reading the news. Now this is an area that’s ripe for change. Although, I believe it’s important to stay well-informed, it shouldn’t take an hour each day to accomplish this. 10-15 minutes is a much more reasonable number, giving me back nearly 45 minutes each day.

Unfortunately, much of what we consume from the media are stories that are oftentimes sensationalized to boost ratings and highlight all that’s wrong in the world instead of what’s right. For me, this time would be much better spent reading an actual book about a topic that interests me.

381 Text Messages

3 hours were spent texting. Via the Quality Time app, I was also able to see that 381 text messages were sent. [1] Now, I’m not arguing that all texting is bad, as it is another way of connecting with the people, however, it’s important to note that these were 381 tiny distractions that diverted my concentration from, likely, more pressing work.

How can I make a change? By going into airplane mode when focusing on work that requires a higher level of attention.

5 Hours of, You Have got to be Kidding me,...Facebook

...this can’t be right!!! After seeing this, I actually went back to make sure this number was correct. In order to do so, I calculated the weekly average over the past two months, and sure enough, I’ve been spending nearly 3 hours per week on Facebook. What a time suck.

It’s Eureka moments like these that are such a game-changer in life. I had no clue that I was wasting this much time on social media. This was akin to when I initially moved to NYC and discovered that I had been spending close to $200 a month on cabs when I first began to track my spending. Looks like I’ll be deleting my Facebook app.

Reclaiming Time Without Sacrificing Lifestyle

After finding out how much time I’ve wasted on my phone these past 2 months one would think that I’d feel pretty deflated. Ironically, what I’m feeling is empowered. It feels like I just cracked a code that will allow me to reclaim 13 hours of time each week without making any drastic lifestyle changes. This means more time to be spent with my future bambino once that time comes! Looks like I had been wasting a good amount of time after all.

How about you? Do you know how much time you spend on your phone each day? Are there other areas of your life where you’ve reclaimed time?




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