Portion Control

Wherever you go, everyone speaks of one word these days – Portion Control.

Someone is controlling sugar, someone carb, someone gluten, someone fat, someone … ah, the list is endless! It’s amazing to encounter this word “portion control” anywhere and everywhere.

As a habit, I think it’s wonderful and it’s great to know that people including me have become so mindful about what they eat.

But I wonder why this “Portion Control” consciousness only for what we feed to our body? Why not “Portion Control” for the mind too?

A recent conversation with a few friends having lunch and casual chitchat over food and lifestyle made me think more about this. Everyone in that group was sharing their stories on what and how they have limited their food intake but many while talking kept on looking at their phones. Now if this was me a year back, I wouldn’t have found anything wrong about talking while responding to WhatsApp or browsing Instagram. In fact, I would have happily attributed it to multitasking ability and how efficient we are at it these days.

But now I do, I do find it to be weird talking to someone while not looking at him/her.

I find it tiring to be consuming content on-screen constantly and continuously.

By the way, like many, I am also one of those who had disabled my phone notifications long back but despite that, for me, the eye-opening moment about my screen consumption habit was when I installed the screen time app on my phone this January. I always assumed I didn’t waste lots of time browsing junk on my phone but that app’s results for the first few weeks were shocking, to say the least. I had a screen time of 5 hours+ on my phone! Initially, I also thought it could be calls but no, it was chatting on WhatsApp, browsing Linkedin, Instagram, and other random content. 

Now 5 hours per day means, 35 hours a week! In 5 hours, I could have written 1 new blog post every day.  In 35 hours, I could have read perhaps 2 new books every week. 

Ok I agree, not every content browsing is junk and many of us do a large portion of our work on phones but what about the distractions through group chats and notifications about the picture of a dog uploaded by your uncle’s friend’s aunt living in some corner of the world?

If you were like me, you also might be thinking just one response to that “important” Whatsapp message or one quick scroll on Instagram won’t do much harm in between your work but then I read this – 

It takes on an average 23 minutes to focus back after distraction!

I don’t know about the accuracy of 23 minutes but I can’t debate the fact that distraction takes few seconds whereas concentrating back takes minutes. 

The digital content is nothing less than a  lavish buffet spread now and the 24*7 internet connectivity on our phone is like having that buffet in front of our eyes wherever we go. Even though the buffet looks very lucrative but can we afford to consume it all everyday?

Six months into controlling my screen time and I have brought it down to less than 2 hours everyday, now the aim is to bring it down further this month. 

What worked for me is exactly what works for potion control in our meals, something that you hear often –

Measure, Eliminate And Replace.

1. Measure: Like food, the realization starts with the number. How many of us are super conscious about measuring our weight weekly? Few kgs north of our average weight and we get worked up. We just need to bring the same sincerity in tracking other important things in our life. Install any screentime app of your choice and I bet you will be surprised to see the reality of time spent on your phone. 

2. Eliminate: Remove the obvious junk. The way we do it with sugar or refined food in our diet, we need to do take similar steps for our mind too. Now what you would like to eliminate depends upon you. For some, it could be social sites and for some video browsing sites. For me, the first thing that I reduced was Facebook (gosh, how much random videos I used to watch!) browsing from 45 minutes a day to now less than 5 minutes a day. After Facebook, I implemented the same for many other sites too :-). 

3. Replace: Fill your plate with healthier options and make them easily accessible: Now this is one of the most important suggestions that you hear from experts, go for healthier options like salads and vegetables but more importantly carry more such options in your bag or keep them in your work desk to grab when your crave for any junk food. Again the same applies here. In my case, I have filled my first screen with things that I would like to focus on, e.g., reading apps, notes, etc and the ones whom I do not want to have been hidden in folders in the third or fourth screen. 

Just try these three simple tips and see the difference. Measuring part is really important, you will not know how deep the problem is or what to eliminate and replace until you evaluate :-).

Now that we have discussed portion control for meals and mind, I wonder isn’t it good to have it in other aspects of life too like work as well as relationships? More on that in my next post soon :-).

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