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‘I’m back!’: how Guardian readers reclaimed their brains and cut their screen times by 40% | Life and style

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‘I’m back!’: how Guardian readers reclaimed their brains and cut their screen times by 40% | Life and style

It’s been almost three months since the Guardian launched the Reclaim your brain newsletter – a free, five-week email coaching plan for anyone who wants to spend less time on their phone.

Since then, more than 100,000 readers have signed up, making it the fastest-growing newsletter we’ve ever launched. (If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to Reclaim your brain whenever you want – you still get sent the same weekly plan as everyone else.)

So far, the feedback we’ve received from readers has been overwhelmingly positive, with many saying that they’re sleeping better, feeling less anxious, reading more, pursuing new hobbies and being more attentive to their children.

Almost 250 of you have been in touch about your progress after we sent a completion survey – here’s what you’ve told us:

Overall, readers reduced their screen time by almost 40%

We asked subscribers to tell us how many hours a day they were spending on their phones before and after completing the Reclaim your brain coaching plan.

The result? They cut their collective screen time by 38%, saving almost 127,000 hours every year between them.

“I feel like a fog has been lifted, and for the first time in years I can account for every moment of my day – none of it has been spent mindlessly scrolling,” said Felipe in Northern Ireland. “I’ve been reading more, watching more movies, and started to cook more too, which has been a major success with my wife!”

Some subscribers saw huge drops in their screen time

While the average decrease in screen time was 38%, some Reclaim your brain subscribers went even further.

Hussain Ali, a 45-year-old reader based in London, says he was spending nine hours a day on his phone before signing up. He has now managed to get his daily screen time down to just two hours. “I think it was just the kickstart I needed,” he said. “I now feel like there’s time in the evening and weekends to do something instead of scrolling for two or three hours and wondering where the time went.”

Meanwhile, a project manager in Boston (who requested to be anonymous) went from more than 10 hours a day on her phone to three. “I feel much happier – some days are as low as 2.5 hours and I’m noticing a difference in my mood, the perception of free time I have, and intentionality,” she said.

“I’m reading more books, doing more chores and sleeping better. I’m more mindful about paying attention to the things I’m supposed to be doing, whether that’s watching TV, eating dinner or contributing to meetings.”

Many now have more time for their hobbies

Charlotte Conlin, an Oregon-based subscriber who describes herself as “a 60-something retired woman who is a passionate knitter, crazy cat mom and ******* domestic diva”, says she now has more time for her favorite activities after cutting her screen time from seven hours a day to four.

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“I was appalled when I saw how many hours I was spending on my ‘******* slab’, as my husband likes to call it,” she said. “I had no idea how much time I’d been wasting. But I now have more time for knitting and crafting. I have fully present conversations with my spouse and I’m slowly regaining focus and clarity.”

Charlotte also says she’s been able to rediscover the pleasure of doing nothing. “I’m beginning to enjoy something I did back in the day before smartphones; sitting and staring out a window, letting my mind wander, and daydreaming. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me begin to get my life and time back.”

Meanwhile, Annemarie, a 29-year-old doctoral student in Germany, says she went from three hours a day on her phone to one. “I’ve been exercising, playing the piano, and doing nothing – as in literally doing nothing,” she said. “I feel much better, and less dependent on my phone and more in control of my life”.

Guardian writer Rhik Samadder’s diary of quitting helped one reader in particular

Rhik’s diary, which is included at the end of every Reclaim your brain email, provided some well-needed inspiration for one reader. In week one, Rhik despairs at his phone, calling it the “thief of his life”. This resonated with Melissa Griffin, a 53-year-old student in Australia, who managed to get her screen time down from eight hours a day to two thanks to such “existential questions”.

“Thief of my life no more!” she wrote. “I am more present with the people in my life. I am making choices instead of blaming the phone for my habits. I can now study – that was my goal. Academic reading is possible! I was worried that my attention span had been destroyed by my phone. Reading Rhik Samadder’s weekly accounts was a wonderful part of this series. I have gained so much more than being able to do my academic reading and assessments. I am back!”

Subscribers reported feeling less anxious

“I think spending less time on my phone has also helped my anxiety,” wrote Birgit, a 22-year-old law student based in Vienna, who reduced her screen time from eight hours a day to three. “I feel like it was at its worst doomscrolling and wanting to stop but feeling like I can’t. Plus not always seeing everyone on

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present the best version of their life is also good for my mental health.”

Victoria, a subscriber based in Scotland, found similar benefits. “I feel less anxiety around my phone use and have stopped carrying it with me constantly,” they said. “I no longer have it in the bedroom and don’t use it as an alarm clock. I feel I am in control of my phone use – using it for work but not being sucked into mindless scrolling.”

Some parents found the newsletter helped them be more attentive to their children

“What amazes me the most is the amount I spent before on my phone,” wrote Panu Huotari, a 44-year-old subscriber from Finland, who reduced his screen time from five hours a day to one. “The time with my kids is now really time with them, where I’m present and not constantly checking what might be happening somewhere else. I’ve been out more, have had better discussions with people, and felt a lot more inspired, happier, loving and caring.”

Meanwhile, Kieran Healy, a Vancouver-based construction manager in his 40s, said: “I can engage more with my son. I get out of bed easier in the morning. My battery lasts the day – before I had to fully recharge through the day!”

One reader replaced her screen time with a different type of twittering

Shelly, a 46-year-old subscriber based near Stroud in the ***, halved her daily screen time from four hours to two, and says she’s managed to find a pleasant replacement in some winged house guests. “I started feeding the birds by my kitchen window around the time I signed up to the coaching newsletter,” she said. “Having never fed the birds before, I was surprised at the amount of joy the little winged visitors bring – and liken the joy to the same dopamine hit of a social media ‘like’.

“Now I wait with anticipatory excitement for the birds to get my brain boost. I love it. I also definitely spend more time with my daughter totally focused and not on my phone, it’s been very rewarding.”

Have you completed the newsletter and had a ******* drop in your screen time? Let us know by taking our survey here.

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#Guardian #readers #reclaimed #brains #cut #screen #times #Life #style

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