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INSIGHTS | The Last Dance for Old Habits?:

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Let’s just get it out of the way. Yes, I have become obsessed with the Netflix documentary, The Last Dance. Michael Jordan’s necessity to win at everything, the mental mindset to not let standards drop and teamwork that made the Bulls such an incredible force for so long, is simply astonishing. This is, of course, a mindset and approach the TUVA team lives by and tries to achieve every day, but this blog isn’t about that.

This is about how habits have changed since being in lockdown. I binged the series episodes I had saved up in one go, and then had to wait a week for the next episode until it finished - something from a bygone era of television viewing…but actually I didn’t hate it. It gave me something to look forward to, something to base my week around other than endless Zoom calls and quizzes. It even helped me remember what day of the week it was.

As my attitude towards TV viewing has started to change during lockdown, so has the way I use my devices and apps. So much so, I started to wonder just how much it had altered. A quick investigation into my Screen Time phone settings would tell me more…

Now, given that my working week and side hustle as substitute teacher has meant the hours I keep have flipped dramatically, I expected some off the chart readings. And in parts I was right. But generally speaking, my phone is starting to look a little neglected.

Usually it is the beating heart of my working week. Email, phone, WhatsApp and Apple news are constantly being opened, checked or glanced at, making up for about 61% of my daily phone use. The rest is mainly podcasts, Spotify, social media, online banking and Google Maps.

This accounts for an average of over eight hours a day of mobile screen time from the moment I wake up, to when I go to sleep. It might not sound like much, but I commute (or used to) two hours each day and spend the rest of it on my laptop in the office, so actually that’s a lot.

But in a lockdown world, my mobile habits are totally different. My average screen time is under four hours a day. Email is right down; phone calls only account for 2% of usage; podcasts are at zero (don’t forget I’m playing teacher to a five year old, so peace and quiet has gone out of the window); banking apps hardly ever opened (what’s the point I’m not spending any money); and all the rest listed above are not required at home.

So, where’s my screen time now going?

Well it’s obvious isn’t it. It’s now on my laptop. I’ve spent so much time with it, it’s starting to feel like another child. Just less needy and not banging on the toilet door asking what I’m doing. Previously I would log on to it when I arrived at the office, having done my morning emails and calls on my phone. Now, it’s on from the second I pour my first coffee, until I finally shut the lid in the evening for some Netflix binging.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m on it constantly, because I would be lying if I said I was. But I am, like most, working erratic hours and having it open and nearby when I’m juggling something else has started to feel a bit like a safety blanket, so things aren’t missed, and I can get everything done that needs doing for clients. So much so, my daily screen time has increased by around 44%.

As we adapt to a new way of living, interacting and working, is the way we use our devices going to change forever? Will we finally be free from the little devices in our pockets? I doubt things will stay quite as they are now, with working hours etc. but actually kicking some old ways of working and having less time on a small, restrictive device and less time commuting and being more productive isn’t a bad thing…is it. 

So maybe this really is the last dance for our old habits.

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