Every Monday I get a notification informing me of my screen time average per day that past week. Before opening the notification I’m praying that it’s under three hours – who am I kidding? I use it for Slack as a copywriter, social media and voice memos as a music artist, Twitter spaces for NFT news and my Web3 community and for my social life (plus, like anyone, I’m guilty of a lil scroll). It’s averaging at five hours.
While I’m grateful to be able to do so much on just one small device – as freelancers this is a god send in many ways – it also makes it difficult to compartmentalise and we’re all aware of the effect it has on our attention spans. While I’d love to move into a screen-free career, I personally just can’t see that happening any time soon and even a full time music career requires endless hours looking at Logic or Ableton in a studio on a, you guessed it, screen.
For many freelancers however, screen free career goals are plausible and desirable, yet we aren’t quite sure how to attain such a mythical dream. Screen-free career goals provide a very different sense of satisfaction. I myself work ten hours a week in a café. It pays my rent per month and I love those screen-free mornings spent listening to music with great colleagues and keeping my feet busy, allowing my mind to wander while meeting strangers and people watching in central London – it’s a totally different type of satisfaction.
I was inspired to take on this café job by a friend of mine who lives in Paris. She is a fashion influencer and entrepreneur – running Paris’ first ever vintage rental clothing app. She makes a decent living and as you can imagine, these two jobs require a lot of screen time. She too works in a lovely Parisian café two days a week. Like for me, it relaxes her knowing that the rent is definitely being paid each month, provides a sense of stability and removes her from the digital whirlwind of creative work for ten to fifteen hours each week.
Everyone’s path into work is different. Although the creative industries run on a bizarre doctrine that says you ought to feel blessed, privileged, nay, exalted to work within them, like any career path some of us (a lot of us) just found ourselves here and weren’t expecting it to demand quite so much screen time.
You’ll also find that these two or three screen heavy and low or no screen jobs can compliment each other. While working in the café, I choose the music I play which allows me to listen as a consumer while I work without comparing my own creations or being able to pause it and analyse which samples are used.
Screen-less jobs don’t just need to be working in a café. In fact, you can even split one job into screenless and screen-heavy. If you’re an illustrator, maybe try to do 20% of your work using real materials during which you turn your phone off. You’ll be sure to attain that specific, wholesome satisfaction feeling.