There are 8760 hours in a year. In 2020, I spent, 1313.2 hours on my computer and another 1235 hours on my phone or tablet. Put another way, 2547 hours out of the total possible in 2020 was spent on a screen. This equates to about 29% of my life in 2020 that was screened. 1554 hours of that time was on projects, meaning consciously logged time on a project or specific task.
One additional screentime component that isn’t included here is my Kindle reading time. While it is also technically a screen, reading does quite feel comparable to these other devices. I read 52 books last year so at about 7 hours per book, that’s maybe 360 or so reading screentime hours.
Let’s look at and visualize my year in time data in more detail.
Total Computer Time: 1313.2 hours
500 hours less than 2019:
Top Computer Usage Month: July
Top Apps = Writing and Dev Tools
Top Computer Day: Tuesday
Peak Computer Usage around 10am to 12 pm
Device Time: 1235 hours on Phone and Tablet
The Big Blocks of My Project Time
Total Project Time: 1554 hours
Top 2 Months for Project Time: April and July
Breakdown of Workspaces:
Personal Projects, Writing and Studies
Breakdown of Projects:
How did I split up my week between areas?
Total YouTube Time: 301 hours
A couple of years ago I took a 30-day break from YouTube, which gave me better sense of both how much time I spent on YouTube and enabled me to use the video platform more towards learning rather than entertainment. I no longer use YouTube on the computer. Yet at nearly 50 minutes per day in 2020, I still think my usage is a bit high. Going forward, I want to try and limit my usage to around 4-6 hours per week while continuing to use it to learn and grow.
- 1313.2 hours on computer (vs. 1840 hours in 2019)
- 702.8 hours on my phone (down from 895 hours in 2019)
- 532.7 hours on my tablet (down from 830 hours in 2019)
- Meaning I had 2547 hours out of 8760 total possible in 2020 on a screen.
- 301 hours was on YouTube, most but not all of which was on my iPad.
- 1554 hours of project time (vs. 1716h in 2019), meaning about 29 hours per week I was consciously logged and engaged on a project or task.
How I Tracked My Time
- For computer usage, I track it using RescueTime, a product I’ve used for several years and is integral for objectively knowing how long I spend on my computer and which tools I use most. For more on RescueTime, checkout How to Create a Time Tracking Dashboard using RescueTime, IFTTT and Google Sheets.
- For project time tracking, I use Toggl, which is a free time tracker that works on web, mobile and Mac. Manual time tracking does require some dedication but as a true metric of my input, it’s irreplaceable. Toggl has great reports, easy exports of raw logs and a nice API too.
- For device tracking, each week I manually log my screentime from my iPhone and iPad into a spreadsheet. I’d love a better method, but since it only takes a minute and is part of my weekly review, it’s fine.
Conclusion: Lessons Learned and Looking Forward
It’s crazy to think that 29% of my life in 2020 was “screened.” That said, compared to 2019 and 2018, my total computer time has been decreasing. I partially equate this to a bit more balance in my life. I exercise more regular, take regular breaks, and don’t obcessive about working all the time anymore. When I am at my computer, I avoid distractions and focus as much as possible on working on the tasks at hand and goals I have established.
When it comes to phone time, I am extremely gratiful for the mindspace I have recovered by using my phone less. I removed various apps and reconfigured my homescreen such that I have converted my phone into primarily a tool for photo taking, exercise tracking and communication, rather than entertainment and scroll. I’ll admit that TikTok videos are my biggest time suck but in view of how much laughter and joy it brings, I am less concerned about the occassional 30 minutes lost here and there.
Looking forward, I want to continue to strive at limiting my daily phone usage to less than an hour per day. Admittedly it’s ok to spend time using GPS, podcast listening and occassionally checking emails and messages, but in general my goal is to think of my phone as a productive enabler rather than a source of distraction.