Interviews
October 28, 2022

How I manage my screen time and organize my days with Opal

As founder of Opal, I have experimented a lot to fine-tune my setup and focus better. Here’s how I organize my weeks and why.

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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.

Learn more about Sessions

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, TwitterGmail.

On a typical day my Focus Score looks like this. Drop in Focus around lunch time and towards the end of the work day.

My Score tab on the Opal app
Breakdown of Apps I used and impact on my Score

Learn More About Focus Score.

Before Opal, my average screen time was closer to 4 Hours daily.

This is not unusual, in fast we have measured that 79% of Opal members save at least 1 hour daily thanks to the app.

Now, here is my set up on Opal, which is basically how I organize my week thanks to Opal.

My Weekly Set Up on Opal

1. Work Time: 8:00am - 5:00pm, Monday to Friday

Here I block my Fun Apps [social media apps, especially Instagram for me, youtube and news mostly]. I use Normal protection level and typically take 4-5 breaks during the day.

Learn more about Protection Levels

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.

IMG_5470.PNG
A screenshot of my Opal app Sessions tab

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.

Learn more about Deep Focus

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.

IMG_5468 2.PNG
A screen shot of my App Groups with apps I block

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.

Reality check

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.

Learn More about Breaks

What I DO use on Saturdays on my phone:

  • Google Maps (I live in a city and it’s an indispensable tool to get around especially for public transportation)
  • Transportation apps like Lime, Dott (bike sharing) or occasionally uber)
  • Apple Pay to pay for things (I don’t usually carry a wallet)
  • iMessage, Phone, Whatsapp to reach my family/who I am meeting.

That's it, I hope it helps!

What about your set up? What have you tried? What has worked? failed? This post came from an idea shared by Josh on our community board. Please feel free to join and share your set up!

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