We know it. It’s easier to make New Year’s resolutions than to keep a New Year’s resolution. We also know that the ones that have the best chance of working are the ones that are “easy” or require the least effort.
Google believes that great technology should improve life, not distract from it. So over the past year, the tech giant launched several tools and features that help people better understand their tech usage, focus on what matters most, disconnect when needed, and create healthy habits for the whole family. They call it “the Joy of Missing Out,” and hope that it promotes your digital wellbeing in 2019.
Here are 10 steps you can take to improve your relationship with tech and bring digital wellbeing into your life with Google.
1. First step is to understand your habits. The Digital Wellbeing Dashboard on your Android phone running Android 9 Pie will give you a complete picture of how you use each App on your phone on a daily basis, from how many times you unlock it to how many minutes you have spent staring at it, to which Apps are taking what percentage of your time online. (The Dashboard is currently available on Pixel and Android One phones running Android 9 Pie.)
2. Once you identify the apps that are taking most of your time, and decide that may be too large a chunk of the 24 hours we have each day, set smart and actionable goals to reduce that time. Android 9’s app timer lets you limit how long you want to use any app on a given day. When you reach the limit, the app is paused for the rest of the day. Use it to set healthy targets and to remind yourself when it’s time to get on with more important things in life.
3. Notifications—the noisy kind, the light up kind and the vibrating kind—are a distraction, and the Digital Wellbeing Dashboard will let you know exactly how many times you are being interrupted by texts, news and calendar alerts. We also know that notifications increase stress level. There are several ways to take control:
Shhh mode on the Pixel is by far our favourite: just turn the thing face down and voilà, automatic Do Not Disturb and no more notifications.
· Once you identify which apps notify the most, and which notifications are the really important ones, you can use the dashboard to easily turn specific notifications on and off.
· Your phone doesn’t have Android 9 Pie? Do Not Disturb is also available on Android phones running previous versions, allowing you to mute notifications at any time with just a tap.
4. If you like videos, sometimes you may find yourself in binge watching mode. Not sure? Find out in YouTube’s time watched profile: on your mobile, tap on your account, then time watched profile to see time spent today, yesterday, last week and a daily average. Again, set yourself smart goals to reduce that time.
5. Once you have your set goals, activate YouTube’s new Take a Break reminder, which runs when you are watching a video and forces a pause at intervals that you will set. The reminder is off by default, so you must proactively set it and choose the frequency by tapping your account icon and following a few easy steps to select your reminder frequency.
6. Sleep is the #1, absolutely the most important thing you can do more of to improve your quality of life. If moving the phone out of you room feels like too much of a reach, Android 9 Pie’s Wind Down automatically switches on Do Not Disturb and fades the screen to grayscale at your chosen bedtime to help you remember to get to sleep at the time you want. YouTube also lets you quiet your notifications during your own customizable quiet hours.
7. If you have kids, use Family Link to set digital ground rules and screen time limits for everyone in the household and stay in the loop of how the kids are doing. If all else fails, you can lock a device at bedtime, or simply when you think a kid needs a break. Family Link also lets you set up the Google Assistant to help you avoid physically wrangling a phone out of a child’s hands: just say Hey Google, lock Johnny’s phone, and it will remotely take care of it so you can all enjoy dinner.
8. If you have trouble getting your family to the dinner table or getting your kids to sleep, Google WiFi has family-friendly controls that allow you to schedule a regular WiFi pause on your kids’ devices. You can also choose to block access to millions of explicit websites.
9. Make technology work for you. In the age of the Assistant, we can free ourselves from tasks that increase the amount of time we spend on a device. Use your Google Assistant to dictate and send messages faster, to ask about traffic, organize your tasks and remind you to call mom. Best of all, have the Assistant quiet all your devices before going to sleep by simply saying “OK Google, Goodnight.”
10 There’s some evidence that meditation can improve health and can be useful to some people for managing anxiety. For an easy way to integrate meditation into your day – check out The Mindful Break Chrome extension, which gives you a mindfulness tip and guides you through a short breathing exercise. With this extension you can set reminders to help you remember to take a mental break or Go full-screen to help you stay focused on the task at hand and less distracted by incoming emails or other tabs at the top of your screen.