Scare Yourself Enough to Change
Make your usage visible with Screen Time, Digital Wellbeing, and Rize
Before Google and Apple cared about scree time, Tim Kendall co-founded Moment.
Moment tracked usage with two primary metrics; the number of unlocks and total interaction time. By tracking interaction time, Moment removed the poor excuse of blaming your high screen time on idle unlocks because in order for screen time to count toward usage, you had to be interacting with the device- scrolling or opening apps, to be more precise.
The app also allowed you to set a daily target goal for total usage. When you got close to exceeding that limit, Moment would notify you, which was your cue to stop using the device. Daily and weekly reports also helped nudge you towards better usage behavior. Each report showed you a breakdown of where your time was going and if you met your self-defined goals which subtly shamed you if you didn’t meet those goals.
Sadly, Moment is no more. Nicat Manafov is a UI/UX designer who followed the company. He informed me that “In one day the company website disappeared from the internet. The app vanished from the App Store without any announcement or explanation.” For some strange reason, all that remains is the company’s YouTube channel and LinkedIn profile.
Luckily, in the time since Moment pioneered the space, both Google and Apple have released built-in usage trackers. iOS has Screen Time and Android has Digital Wellbeing. Both apps track usage, notifications, and pickups. All of which are valuable sources of information.
Usage data brings to light how much of your time is being eaten up by a specific app and/or device. Notifications paint the picture of how intrusive a device is. And pickups are an indicator of how irresistible the device is to you.
Both Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing come pre-installed and are enabled by default. To view your usage all you need to do is find the app within your Settings or System Preferences for macOS users. Both apps provide daily and weekly reports, much like Moment did.
What Screen Time Tells You
On the weekly report, you get a breakdown of your Daily Average, along with a percent of the increase or decrease from last week’s metrics.
Usage data is represented in a graph that breaks it down by each day of the week. Your usage for the entire week is displayed under the bar graph and bucketed by your top three categories of usage.
Total Screen Time for the week is then listed at the bottom of the graph.
Switching tabs at the top to Day, presents you with a finer view of your usage. The top display box displays the total Screen Time for the Day, two bar graphs, and the top three categories. The first bar graph displays the days of the week along the x-axis and total Screen Time on the y-axis, giving you a snapshot of each day.
Below the total Screen Time bar graph is a second graph. On the second graph, the hours of the day are on the X-axis and the minutes on the Y-axis. The top three categories of your usage are then plotted on the graph. Which gives you an idea of when and how much you've used a specific app.
Scrolling down a bit, another screen title
PICKUPS displays a similar graph that tracks your first pickup and total pickups.
Pickups provide insights into how addicted and distracted you are.
The more pickups you have and the closer they are together is an indicator of how much pull the device has over you.
Where Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing fall short is historical data, cross-device tracking, and usage granularity.
At most, these apps present a single week’s worth of data. That just isn’t enough historical reference to catch most behavior addictions. Another limitation is the blind spots created by the abstraction of grouping your usage into a category or an application.
For example, knowing you spent two hours using a web browser isn’t all that useful. In order to correct your behavior, you’d have to know what websites you visited and how long you spent there. Screen Time pulls in some of that data, but it’s just not granular enough to be useful.
Lately, if you’re not exclusively an Apple consumer you won’t be able to track your usage across all your devices.
Get Historical and Granular Insights with Rize
Rize provides the historical data and granularity you need. It's a smart time tracker that helps you make data-based decisions to build better habits.
Unlike ScreenTime and Digital Wellbeing, Rize tracks everything. Every activity you do on your computer is logged and time-stamped, which gives the program the ability to calculate the total time you used a particular app or visited a specific website. Armed with this type of data, you can truly make the invisible visible.
Beyond just logging activity, Rize also plots your usage throughout the day on a timeline, giving you a glimpse into your high-level usage pattern. It provides the timeline view for a single day, week, or month.
We like to think that our usage is confined to our working hours, but data will likely tell you a different story, the truth. Your usage is fragmented throughout every moment of your day.
Rize also categorizes your activity for you, which takes some massaging to make accurate. But, with a little effort can begin to surface your bad or good habits.
Download and Install Rize
Go to rize.io, then click “Download the App”.
When the download finishes, run the installer and open the app
Downloading the app requires nothing more than your email address. No credit card is required and there’s a 14-day free trial included. Which is more than enough for our purposes.
Use Rize and Screen Time or Digital Wellbeing to track your usage for seven days. Do your best not to alter any of your behavior. Don’t worry about exhausting your willpower trying not to pick up your phone or limit your usage, that comes later.
For now, just track where your attention goes and your time will follow.
Note: If you meet resistance with installing Rize on work devices, focus on personal devices. Often the devices used outside of business hours are smartphones and tablets and the built-in trackers will be sufficient.