Apple has released a new iOS. It sucks the phone battery dry quicker than ever before, but there is an excellent update in there: it shows how much time you spend on your phone doing what. Quite by chance, a few days before the update I downloaded the Moment app that does the same because I had a sneaky feeling that I was wasting more time doing nothing than I could imagine.
It’s one thing thinking about it. But when the real numbers stare you in the face, it changes everything.
Moment shows that, on average, I spend about 1.5 hours per day, which isn’t too bad, is it? It is bad because it only tracks one phone. I have two. And an iPad. And a couple of times when I was dying to check my Instagram, I picked an untracked device precisely to avoid seeing that usage added to my daily report.
That’s when I knew I had a problem.
This year, I’ve worked hard on making my consumption habits much more conscious. I’ve been decluttering my space and my mind. I’ve been picking quality over quantity. I’ve prioritised savings over spendings. And I am genuinely proud of myself because I’m starting to see the results: I’m calmer and happier and more positive and more confident, and in 1 year I’ve saved more money than I did in the last 10.
But then I saw these numbers for digital consumption, and I’ve realised that it never crossed my mind to think about how I consume time. It’s become such a subconscious habit that I often don’t notice when I pick up my phone or that I’m rechecking Instagram in 5 minutes.
I could come up with many excuses why it’s alright to spend so much time on my phones. It’s how I keep in touch with my husband throughout the day. It’s how I check the news. It’s how I relax by scrolling down Instagram (Instagram again!..). It’s how I get around using Google Maps or Mapper. It’s how I shut the world out with music from Spotify. It’s how I find something new to cook for dinner on Pinterest. It’s how I keep track of my finances. And so on.
Yes, I consume a lot of digital content for many reasons, many of them perfectly valid. So why were the screen time numbers so shocking to me?
The answer came this morning when I found this video in my YouTube subscription box. By the way, I forgot to add YouTube to the paragraph above, but I’m watching less and less of it so I won’t beat myself there, mainly because these days I skip makeup tutorials and go to thought-provoking videos. Like this one by Sadia from Pick Up Limes who talks about the consume / create ratio:
And then it hit: I consume more than I create. A lot more. The ratio has been improving recently, but I have a long way to go to create the better life I imagine for myself. One where I am fluent in French and working at a more senior level and living in my own home with a couple of pets and able to travel more often and have a healthy and fit body and maybe writing books and all that stuff from my visualisation board. Actually, it’s daunting to think that I took the time to create that board but did so little to create those moments and things in my life.
Because I won’t wake up one morning and speak French by magic, I have to push myself to learn it every single day.
Because more senior jobs don’t come by luck, I have to grow into them.
Because having my own home with pets can only be possible if I save even more.
Because it’s the same with travel wishes.
Because to be fit and healthy, I need to exercise more and eat better.
Because books don’t write themselves.
Consumption is easy: you just take your card out or pick up your phone and there you go.
Creation takes mind power and time, reason why it’s so off-putting. Yet, it’s the only way to achieve anything. And ultimately, the sense of achievement is so much more powerful than the sense of possession.
The consume / create ratio was the last missing piece of my puzzle. I am driven by achievement, always have been. So while I’ve certainly made positive changes in the last few months, I can’t say I’ve achieved much – precisely because I’ve not created much. It’s like I’ve built a theatre but not written any plays to show there.
It’s so obvious now. Why didn’t I see it before?
Now I do. Create > consume is now the centre of my wish board.