When Screen-Time Disrupts Practice

Yes, I’m writing and you’re reading this on a screen. But here’s why you should minimize your screen-time for the sake of your practice.

Recently, I’ve made the difficult decision to put my cross-stitch projects on hold for a while. I did so because I’ve noticed a trend in my practices: the more it involves looking at a screen, the less productive I am. Sure, I could print out my patterns, but there’s just something alluring about pulling up a PDF pattern and throwing on some YouTube videos.

For me, screen-time disrupts practice in three primary ways:

  1. It lulls me into distraction. If I’m doing something on the internet, it’s so easy to get distracted by email notifications, other to-do’s, etc. I may start out “practicing” bass or writing, but it quickly deteriorates.
  2. It transforms active creation into passive consumption. I’ve used calories as a metaphor for information before. A lot of screen-based media is designed to be mental “junk food” – easily consumable and making you more likely to be sedentary.
  3. It disrupts sleep. I’ve spent countless nights sitting down with the intention of watching one video or episode, only to end up staying up until 3 or 4am. Everyone knows (or is) someone who gets up a 5am to work a 10+ hour job only to come home and do screen-time of some form until 1 or 2 in the morning. For better or worse, we need a lot sleep for mentally- and/or physically-challenging practices.

Here are three strategies I’ve been trying out in order to address these three disruptions:

  1. Have specific objectives/schedules on the screens. Now, whenever I fire up my computer or tablet, I have a particular goal (“write a blog post on ________”) and a timetable (“for 30 minutes”). This helps keep me on-track.
  2. Stick to analog formats whenever possible. I’m to the point where I rarely use internet resources to practice bass. Instead, I use a battery-powered metronome and an egg-timer. I’m trying to read hard-copy books instead of surfing the web. I’m also looking forward to replacing cross-stitch with hand-drawing, which only requires a stylus and paper.
  3. No screen-time an hour before bed. This is by far the hardest strategy to stick to. But avoiding screens late at night makes me much more likely to get to bed at a decent time. It also forces me to to do reading, journaling, or drawing that I might not have otherwise.

Do you struggle with screen-time disrupting your practice(s)? If so, what strategies have you used to get back on-track?

Author: Leah Pogwizd

Bassist and Instructor

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