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  • Writer's pictureRachel Olstein Kaplan

Boundaries Needed! How I Implemented My Own Screen Time Rules

Updated: Jun 2

women laying on her bed scrolling on her phone

Since the introduction of the iPhone and then exacerbated ten-fold by COVID and the hybrid work model, setting boundaries in today’s work environment has become increasingly challenging. For those of us who run our own businesses, it can be particularly tough to draw and maintain lines between work and family, vacation and time-on, and urgent matters versus those that really can wait until Monday morning. 

Historically, I have not been good enough at drawing these lines, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about which boundaries matter most to me, and how I can stick to them. The benefits are clear; doing so will mean I can approach work feeling focused and refreshed and in turn deliver better services to my clients. I’ve seen time and again how setting these limits drives better results. And, it helps me be a better manager, parent, friend and partner. 

So where did I draw the line?

Perhaps it’s because I am a parent that screen time feels like a priority right now. It’s always a topic of discussion with the kids and in the past month, even my not-yet-three-year-old has started asking me for “just a little bit” of Peppa Pig each day. Every family ultimately has to decide what works best for themselves and their kids. But what about the adults?

As someone whose work puts me in front of a screen for more of my waking hours than I like to admit, cutting down on the post-work screentime is a priority. I don’t want to close the laptop only to hop on Instagram or Netflix. So I’ve decided to set my own screen time limits. I’m driven by a desire to model healthy screen habits to my children, but also as a way to allow me to disconnect from the outside world and truly be in the moment. 

Because it’s not just about how I interact with my children. It’s about that ongoing desire to live the best version of my life. It’s about finding a way to be more present in my own life and making sure I don’t wake up one day to the stark realization that my life went swiftly by while I was lost in a screen.

Just as clear limits work well when trying to separate between work time and family time, I’ve found reducing screen time requires some very hard and fast rules. Years ago, I would turn my phone off completely on Saturdays. Friends knew they had to call our landline for something urgent. Or just stop by. 

The Plan

These days, I am trying a new approach. First, I sleep with my phone in a different room. This puts an end to the late-night email checks - or heaven forbid a 3am glance at the headlines. I’ve also turned off all notifications between 10pm and 7am and set time limits on WhatsApp, news and social media apps. Finally, I’m now trying out a phone-free period during those precious hours of the day when my meetings have wrapped up and my kids are home and awake. Is it working? Sometimes. It takes willpower. The urge to reach for the phone is real. To avoid temptations, I plug it into the wall, far out of sight. (Ringer on in case of emergencies, notifications off.)

My hope is that in time, the urge to check will disappear and the need to check for notifications will dwindle during other times of the day as well. I hope to go back to phone-free Saturdays, too. If I can pull this off, I know I won’t regret it. What am I missing, after all? The IG feed will keep on growing, the stock exchange will rise and fall with or without my gaze, and the headlines will be right where I left them, just as bleak, when I plug back in. 

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