10 useful things you could be doing instead of looking at your phone

Brits spend over four hours on their phone every day on average, adding up to a whopping 1,522 hours a year or 63 days, including over an hour a day online shopping.

To put this into context, we’ve looked at 10 aspirational new skills or useful tasks and how long it typically takes to complete them, showing that by putting your phone away a little more, you can open yourself up to a huge range of new achievements and experiences.

  1. Learn a new language

 The US Foreign Service Institute estimate that it takes roughly 480 hours to become fluent in a ‘Group 1’ language, such as French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Swahili[1].

With people spending an average of 1,522 hours per year just looking at their phone, this time could instead be used to master three new languages. Experts estimate this extra skill could even earn you a 2% pay rise[2].

Apps like Duolingo make it easier than ever to learn a language in your free time and allow you to put that screentime to good use.

  1. Become a yoga teacher

Teaching the art of yoga can be very rewarding and it can take less time than you think. The first level of certification takes a minimum of 200 hours. This generally takes three to five months on average, however it also works out to be six hours a day for a month, if you wanted it to be more intensive.

Halving smartphone use to two hours a day mean free up the time to complete this course within three months.

  1. Learn to fly

According to Go Fly UK, a Private Pilot’s License, which allows you to fly private, propeller driven aircrafts, will take a minimum of 45 hours to complete, whilst most students will require an average of 55 hours[3].

Considering average daily smartphone usage, if Brits put down their smartphones for just 13 days, or gave up online shopping for two months, they could free up enough time to learn to fly a plane!

  1. Read the classics

Many people love to read, but often say they don’t have the time to do it as much as they’d like. However, spending less time on your phone could give you more time to read the classics.

It takes over 98 hours to read the entire A Song of Ice and Fire book from the Game of Thrones series, 60 hours to read the Harry Potter series, and 26 hours to read The Lord of the Rings[4].

Brits could read all of these books (184 hours) over a year if they cut just their social media usage in half.

  1. Learn to code

If technology is your thing, you could use the time to develop your abilities and learn a new tech-related skill.

Learning to code can take roughly 140 hours[5], and can teach you valuable skills which can open new career directions and get yourself ahead in an increasingly tech-centric work environment. If smartphone users gave up streaming, gaming and online dating apps for three months, they would have enough time available to learn to code!

  1. Train for a marathon

Running a marathon provides a great sense of achievement, but many people may think that they don’t have enough time to train.

While it is undoubtedly a huge commitment, the recommended minimum training at roughly 90 hours over 16 weeks[6] means that by cutting down phone usage by less than a fifth (17%), you can easily commit to training in this timeframe.

  1. Binge watch

You could also fill your time by watching another type of screen. Binging on all of Breaking Bad would take 62 hours, Game of Thrones would take over 70 hours and the entire ten seasons of Friends would take a whopping 121 hours[7].

However, this is still less than half of the average time that people spend online shopping in a year (372 hours).

  1. Knit a scarf

A great to skill to have, especially coming up to Christmas or wintery birthdays, is knowing how to knit. It is said to take around 15-20 hours to knit a scarf, depending on the size of the needles, and the speed you are doing it.

Spending half as much time on your phone a day would mean you could get a scarf done in around two weeks.

  1. Learn to drive

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), it takes most people 45 hours of lessons to learn how to drive, plus 22 hours of practising, generally completed over a period of a few months.

Cutting your social media use in half for around four months would free up the time needed.

  1. Travel to the Moon

Ok this one is a little less likely, however it takes about three days for a spacecraft to reach the Moon. During that time a spacecraft will travel 240,000 miles.


[2] https://money.com/money/137042/foreign-language-fluency-pay-salary/

[3] https://www.goflyuk.com/private-pilots-license-pplnppl/

[4] https://contently.net/2014/10/15/voices/humor/infographic-long-take-read-famous-works-literature/

[5] https://skillcrush.com/2017/08/07/how-long-does-it-take-to-learn-to-code-online/

[5] https://skillcrush.com/2017/08/07/how-long-does-it-take-to-learn-to-code-online/

[6] https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/a760108/rws-basic-marathon-schedules-get-you-round/

[7] https://www.bingeclock.com/s/breaking-bad/

[8] Most popular watch brands at Tic Watches: Armani Watches, Diesel Watches, Michael Kors Watches

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