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As founder of Opal, I spend my days thinking about how to help others manage their screen time, and focus better, to accomplish more of their dreams.
But in this post, I want to talk about my personal story. Since we started Opal in 2020, I have tried it all. I have been too ambitious, I fell off the wagon many times, I rolled back. I learned what doesn't work for me, but also learned what works.
Screen Time is Deep Personal
There is no one-size fits all for screen time. We're all different. What works to manage screen time and focus better is deeply personal. I've learned through experience that it depends on our job, our family situation, personality, abilities, and state of mind.
We built Opal with this in mind. On Opal, you can create a personal screen time set up that works best for you alone. In particular you can schedule sessions - Set daily working hours, sleep and routines, so you don’t have to remember. During Sessions Opal will block apps from your phone and desktop.
I've experience this myself. In the last 2 years, I went from a recently married founder with an idea, to a father of a young child running a venture-backed company. I've moved apartments. I've dealt with loss. I - like many - went through with Covid confinement, remote work and travel. For each of these circumstances my screen time set up with Opal has changed.
Here are a few elements about my current life that can help you understand my set up:
I work from my home office 80% of the time. 20% of the time I either work from an office with my team or travel for meetings.
My job changes frequently: currently I spend 80% of my time selling - managing growth campaigns, setting up process for content and community, experimenting with various offers. A few weeks ago my focus was 80% product.
I live with my wife, our almost 2 year-old son and our dog Koukla.
My 2h 25m of Screen Time
My daily average Screen Time this week is 2h 25m (iPhone only). Most used by order: Instagram, Whatsapp, Twitter, Gmail.
On a typical day my Focus Score looks like this. Drop in Focus around lunch time and towards the end of the work day.
Reality check: Using the break timer helps me use the apps more mindfully. Right now we are running ads on Facebook/Instagram and I actually need to go to Instagram on my phone to reply to comments. I use breaks for that, this helps me do it faster. I occasionally cancel this session altogether for a day, but it comes back the next day which helps me stay on track.
2. Time with Micah: 6:30 PM - 7:15 PM, Monday to Friday
Micah is my almost 2-year-old son, and 6:30 pm is typically when he is at home and ready to play or I can take him to the park. Here I block Work + Fun apps [also includes Gmail, Slack]. I use Deep Focus because I really want to enforce this time.
Reality check: This is a relatively new session so I’m still adjusting, but I find that it helps remind me what matters most in life and to make time for it. I have the flexibility mostly to avoid any meetings or other activities at that time most days, so it’s not too challenging to keep.
3. Digital Sabbath: Saturday 6 AM - 7 PM
This is something I’ve been experimenting with for a while, but fell off the wagon a few times. The idea of a full day off of digital tools is very appealing to me, whenever I can do it I find it very good to rest and recharge. It’s also very hard. Here I block me my Work + Fun apps from sunrise to almost sunset.
This is a reasonable amount of time and I feel like I can also can up in the evening on the fun or work stuff / email if I need. I use Normal protection so I can take breaks in case of emergency (for example if I need to check my email to access a QR code for tickets to something), but generally don’t take any.