5 Steps to Cut Back Screen Time & Increase Creativity

Hullo, world!

I’ve been meaning to write this post last week but changed my mind. (Things happen, don’t they?) This has nothing to do with today’s topic, but I’m happy to announce a few things:

  • Jenna Terese’s Ignite cover reveal is in 2 weeks (The release date is June 2nd)!! You can add it to Goodreads now!!
  • Finding God in Anime’s cover reveal is coming up soon 🙂 I can’t wait to read other people’s submissions!!
  • I began running. If you didn’t know, it’s like the ultimate sports I loathe. It’s been two weeks and I’m having a hard time believing I’m still doing it. 

And, of course, digital minimalism

Becoming a minimalist has been one of my goals for 2021, and the biggest portion of it is my screen time. I’ve researched the average phone usage and the consensus seems to be about three hours or more. That’s only the time spent on one’s phone, so it doesn’t count the time spent on computers, TV, and other devices. 

In January I set my goal to 1 hour per day on my phone. I knew I was wasting a lot of time on it, and I tended to relapse easily after media fasts, so I came up with a circular method to make sure I can keep this quota.

So, let me introduce to you the 5 Steps to Cut Back Screen Time & Increase Creativity

1: Set phone limit to 1 hour 

If you own an iPhone, you can go to the control centre and place a limit. I have a limit of 1 hour on All Apps. I do know the password, however, in case I need to use it and am pretty confident to be self-controlled. 😉 Or not. 

When starting, it might be a good idea to have someone you trust (i. e. parent, sibling, friend, &c.) set the password so that you won’t be able to access your phone when your time’s up. 

Be ruthless like Levi!

2: Delete unnecessary and/or apps available on the computer

This is huge. Before I had a lot of apps on my phone I barely looked at and/or I could also use on my computer. The funny thing is, when I open my computer, I’m usually more focused on my task, so I wouldn’t waste my time as much on say, things like checking my email, but when I’m on my phone I could spend the next fifteen minutes going down a rabbit hole

Delete apps like Levi would…

It also saves phone storage so you can use your phone for things you need. 

Examples of Apps I deleted: Twitter, Google Chrome, Safari, YouTube, Goodreads, &c. 

3: Outline time usage for a given day 

At the end of the day, it’s also a good idea to check how well you did. Something that has helped me was to go back to the reason I’d need my phone in the first place, then plan the phone time usage accordingly. 

I try to post on Instagram as basic self-branding, so I couldn’t quite get rid of it, but I can set a timer for five minutes and post during that time frame. If I know I’d need to record myself for the translation ministry, I would block the thirty to forty minutes needed and work with the remaining time. Or maybe I’m going to chat with my friends overseas on Line. 

Being conscious of how and why and where you spend your phone time helps you be more aware of the phone utility. A phone, at its fundamental level, is a communication tool. The rest of it is usually possible to do elsewhere. 

A moment of revelation!

4: Put the phone away after the limit 

And once your time limit comes up, physically remove your phone from the environment. I would put it in another room or my desk drawer, just any place I can’t see it. This sounds kind of silly, but if you can’t see it, it doesn’t distract you

Okay, now I’m having too much fun at AoT gifs…

For the first few days, you might want to lock it up or ask someone to hide it for you. 

5: Analyze & Assess phone usage each week; plan strategies accordingly

Finally, at the end of the week, go back and check your average weekly usage. My weekly usage does fluctuate, but at the end of the month, I’ve been able to keep it to about an hour for the past three months and it’s been great! 

I do have days I went around my limit or didn’t plan my time as well as I should have done, and those are really good moments to go back to why you’re using your phone and how you can better maintain your time. 

Seriously, everyone should drop what they’re doing and go watch or read AoT!

On Computer screen time:

A little side note for those of you thinking, But I don’t use my phone that much. What about other screen times? 

Good point. Although I haven’t started to crack down on this as much as my phone (partly because I write on and off on my computer and work/study on there), I do have a few tricks to stay focused on one task. 

  • One thing I love to do is the 3 tab limits. Sometimes I see people who have a million tabs open on their computer, which drives me crazy. Recent research shows you can’t actually multi-task, so try tackling one thing at a time. 
  • I also write out my tasks in detail on a post-it note which I stick on my computer. This way, I know why I opened my computer and can stay focused on those tasks. 
  • The 15-minute rule. I would write or do tasks in fifteen-minute sprints and take a break at the end of three rounds. I know I can stay focused, glued to my computer for hours on the end, but try to force myself to take breaks. 

And that’s about it! 

What did you think? What are some of your ways of cutting back screen time? How do you stay focused and use your time wisely? (Or not?) Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

AH: My Depression Journey & What I Learnt From It

Hullo, world!

Today is uncharacteristically sunny here in Raincouver, I went out for a run, and there are many daunting books waiting to be read. My perfect kind of day. 

 

It’s always exciting getting back into blogging after a break, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot–taking breaks. It reminds me of the time I understood the importance of saying no to good things to have truly great things, when I felt like I had to break myself trying hard, and living was hard. 

Yes, it’s that little thing called depression

I suffered from depression for the past five years. And while I wouldn’t say writers, in general, might suffer from it from time to time, it has been true for me. I wasn’t a depressed writer. I was depressed and wrote. 

So pour yourself a cup of tea and take a deep breath. It’s not pretty, it’s really tough for me to write about this, but I hope that this can be encouraging to someone out there who might be feeling like me. 

This is my depression journey

Year 1 (Grades 8 jumped to 10)

We moved from Japan to Canada. We knew no one (everyone we knew lived in other provinces), my father’s job position was tough, and overall, we were struggling. I was feeling burnt out but didn’t want to acknowledge it. As the oldest sibling, I thought I had to have it all together to set an example for my siblings. Housing search, new homeschooling system, and various other things sort of choked out our weariness and I kept pressing on. Writing sustained me in so many ways through this time. 

Year 2 (Re-grade 10)

I ended up ‘failing’ the entire year with the new online school system. (Looking back it’s kind of comical since we had a terrible internet connection and a low-speck computer. I think I’d fail a school year again if I had to use the same computer!) 

This was a huge blow to me because a large part of my identity lay in my academic rigour and strength. We switched to another school and I was determined to pull myself back together. I met new friends and found solace in extracurricular activities. This was where I began my Japanese blog. 

Year 3 (Grade 10-11)

Meanwhile, my depression kept festering. I worked hard, pushed myself to the limits in every part of my life, and in short, burnt myself off. My grandmother was in the ICU in the fall, so Mum flew back to Japan. I took on more responsibilities around the house. Even though my grandmother recovered and Mum came back, our family was falling apart due to many factors and I really wanted to rest. 

But I thought I couldn’t. 

If I stopped functioning in my dysfunctional home, I thought our family would fall apart. I met a really great writer’s community around the summer and finished my first novel’s draft. I went on to participate in my first NaNoWriMo and wrote my second novel’s draft. 

This was where things fell apart.  

A week before the end of November, I took 100 Advils in one day. It was a Sunday, I still remember it well. I was hoping someone at church would notice our family, notice me, but no one did. I felt really nauseous in the evening and told my family. I went to the emergency, but nothing was wrong with me. They sent me home that same night. To this day, I still think it’s a miracle. 

Year 4 (Grade 11-12) 

Because of my ‘suicide attempt’, I was sent to counselling. I think they meant it well, but I was in denial–I only wanted to rest, I kept telling myself–so I stopped going once they made sure I wouldn’t do it again. Plus, they kept on telling me there were worse people out there who was really on the brink of despair. Compared to them, my case was light. 

I think what I really needed back then was someone who would tell me that it wasn’t okay. It wasn’t okay what happened to me, it wasn’t normal the way our family was functioning back then, it was okay to take a break if I was tired. 

But I had no one. 

I remember calling the health lines when things got really bad, but they were like the emergency people–they offered first aids, but nothing more. Every day was so hard, waking up was a challenge, I just wanted to rest. 

Except I didn’t. I picked myself back up, went back to my insane study-extracurricular schedule, and began this blog. Yup, that’s right. Just when I should have been focusing most on taking a breath and recovering, I added more and more responsibility to myself

Year 5 (Grade 12 + beyond)

I ended up switching my online school again. This, added with other big changes, was the final straw that broke me. My relationship with the people around me was going down the drain; someone I’d trusted with my future had disappeared, and I knew I had to get out of my home. Except, my old teachers were not willing to write me any recommendations to American colleges, and my plans of over six years in the making came crashing down

Then the pandemic hit. 

I feel so bad saying this, but this was what ultimately helped me stop. Like, literally, the world hit a break, and I was forced to stop. I had to take a close look at where I’d driven my life to–off a cliff. 

Our family had officially broken down. I still tried to fill my life with more things–more blogging, more writing, more studying, anything, really, if only I didn’t have to think about what was happening–and this time, my family shook me awake. They banned me from doing anything. And I’m so grateful they did that, even though at the time I resented them. 

Through lots of prayers and finally meeting someone willing to mentor me, I began to realise that I’d been severely depressed…and I wasn’t okay. I finally took time to rest, going back to where I’d started–back to God. I still struggle from time to time with being an overachiever trying to mute everything with hard work, yet through taking life at a slower pace, I’ve learnt this vital principle: It’s okay not to be okay. 

The Things I Learnt:

  • When you’re burnt out, stop what you’re doing at that exact moment. The world won’t end even if you stop. 
  • When someone asks you, “How are you doing?” and you’re not doing well, don’t say you’re fine. Sure, you might make other people uncomfortable, but that’s better than making it a habit of lying to yourself. It will take h**l of an effort to break with God’s grace alone.  (Excuse my language. That’s how strong my sentiments lie.)
  • Don’t isolate yourself from others. Always make sure you have someone behind your back who’s in a better mental state than you’re in. If you feel like you don’t, try being honest and transparent in your struggle with someone you know. This might open new avenues and strengthen friendships. 
  • If you’re a believer, go back to His Word daily. One of the biggest problems I had was that I stopped taking time to soak in the Scriptures. Remember, God’s word is light and truth, offering comfort to those in need of it. Let Jesus carry your burdens instead of doing it all alone. 
    • Also, try reaching out to a pastor or someone at your church. (My first church experience was bad, but my second church family really helped me out. If you feel like you won’t be able to get the help you need at your church, maybe it’s a better idea to contact other churches. They’re still your family in Christ.)
  • Be mindful of what you’re consuming, not just food but also media, the people around you, &c. When I was depressed, I tended to take in super dark media just to assure myself my situation wasn’t that bad. This is a terrible strategy and I wish I can go back and shake myself awake. There were also a lot of toxic people around me. Since resting, I’ve learnt to draw boundaries and not allow these things to get to me. Sometimes, it’s necessary to follow 1 Corinthians 10:23–“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

Lastly, I just want to add this: If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or anyone else in your life. There are always people out there who genuinely care about what’s happening to you and will forever blame themselves if they couldn’t notice you needed help. But sometimes, you have to take the first step. 

I see you. God sees you. You were created in His image with an immeasurable plan so wonderful we have no way of knowing its full extent.  You’re fearfully and wonderfully made, even before you were born, you were given a purpose and life. Trust in that. 

And that’s My Depression Journey & What I Learnt From It. 

Thank you for reading! Are you habitually taking time to stop and reflect? Do you practise mindfulness? What are some things that have helped you when you were feeling burnt out?  Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

April Afternoon Tea with SJ + Camp NaNo Update

Good afternoon! 

I’m finally (?) back again for April Afternoon Tea with SJ! (Hopefully I won’t jinx this one…) 

It feels a little odd since I took a short hitout, but even during that short amount of time, so much has happened I don’t know where to start…

Just to begin with, imagine you’re sitting on a terrace of a manor overlooking the ocean. The water surface is pale blue, and the mountainside slopes gently in the distance. The sun is shining warmly, the flowers are in full bloom around the area, and a soft breeze ruffles your hair. We’re having rose-champagne tea in fine china, the sides are peach charlotte cake, cherry blossom bites, and strawberry mousse. 

Ready?

Here we go…

Ah, books. This month, my reading lagged a bit, but I did meet incredible books. The breakdown is the following:

April Reads

  1. Cinder -Marissa Meyer (YA)
  2. Kakushsigoto -Yoru Sumino (Jpn Fic)
  3. The Westminster Confession of Faith (O3)
  4. Files Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents -Lemony Snicket (MG)
  5. Nejimaki Dori Kuronikuru (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) Vol. 1 -Haruki Murakami (Jpn Fic)
  6. How to Run a Country -Cicero (O4)
  7. These Violent Delights -Micah Nemerever (Fic/DA)
  8. Here in the Real World -Sara Pennypacker (JFic)
  9. Democracy in America -Alexis de Tocqueville (O6)
  10. Forgiving What You Can’t Forget -Lysa TerKeurst (NFic)

Currently Reading: Cicero’s Basic Works, Iliad, Henry V

How about another cherry blossom bite? Or more tea? 

I’ve decided to add a new section to AF…Media! Here, I’ll share some music, movies, and other media I’ve fallen in love with for the month. 

Music 

Practising: Mozart’s Rondo in D-dur K485, Brahms Viola Sonata Op. 120 No.2 first movement, Debussy Claire de Lune

Listening to: Dark Academia Playlists, Mozart The Singles, Beethoven ‘Waldstein’ + ‘Spring’ album, Danish String Quartet Prism 1

Movie 

I watched A Beautiful Mind (starring Russel Crowe) and I. Just. Love it! I can’t say anything more than it has major DA vibes and features a mathematician because I might accidentally give away a huge plot twist in the middle of the movie. It reminded me of The Theory of Everything, so this movie is for you if you like the academia vibe with scientists. 

Manga/Anime

This is a totally brand-new section I desperately needed 🙂

I finished The Promised Neverland season 2, and although I guess they ran out of budget towards the end, it made me want to read the manga from the start again! We started Attack on Titan and it’s just…Wow. WHY DID I NEVER PAY PROPER ATTENTION TO IT BEFORE???

Anyhow. I can’t wait to go through this epic manga/anime! Also, Hetalia World Twinkle began serialisation again which I’m squealing all over the place about. 

So, Camp NaNoWriMo update. 

My original camp goal was 25K which I reached the beginning of this week. I’m almost at the 30K mark now, but I won’t be setting a word count goal. Instead, I’ll try to finish Book 2 which I’m at right now. 

A side note: Woodstone Abbey, as you might know, is insanely long. Part of it is due to the way I’ve decided to head the chapters. For instance, I have alternating chapters which are the Roman numeral chapters. In this chapter, there are three numerical chapters, which also have three to five small Roman numeral chapters. (Ex. I. Cognito, ergo sum C1: Dana Housie Beckett i. ) Mind-boggling, I know. 

More tea, anyone? I also stocked raspberry Earl Grey tea (which I’m actually drinking right now) and it’s heavenly. Perfect for spring. 

Right, then. Academics…

I found out I got accepted into a university in the Bachelor of Arts!! It’s one of the top three ranking unis in Canada (top 25 in the world, their website claims), so I’m super hyped. Fun story: The admission decision came five days before I realised it. I spent those days thinking I’d failed. #reasonstocheckyourinbox

I also got an entrance scholarship that covers about half of the first-year cost, and I still can’t believe it. My family’s suggesting I should go punch myself to make sure it’s not a dream. *cough, violence, cough, cough*

I think most of you might remember, but I talked about a super controversial topic on my blog last month–LGBTQ2+ and the Christian Writer. Well, there’s a continuing story to it. One of my IRL friends read the blog, told someone about it, and I was offered an opportunity to speak at a SOGI rally. (FYI, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) 

The focus was on parental rights and child medical transition concerning a court case that happened locally. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but I’m so glad I got to do this public speaking event! 

I also hosted a high schooling homeschooler panel discussion, which was immensely fun! 

So, yes, life happened in great quantity, and I’m glad it did.  😉

That’s about it for today! I hope you’ve enjoyed this tea time. 

What did you think? How has April been so far? What are some books you’ve read? Music you’re listening to? Are you looking forward to school ending soon? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!