I have been a “computer-guy” for a long time. Especially with the internet forming up in the 90s I did spent quite some time in front of a screen. I always managed or had the luck to find balance, either because there was not so much possibilities back then or because life “forced” me in a way to spend a lot of time away form screens, either when working, communicating or entertaining myself.

Times do change, all the time and so 2014 has found me spending way too many hours in front of a screen. Day after day working, communicating, entertaining myself by been hooked in front of a screen as small as an iphone or as big as a 4k display. Wether it was composing, recording, producing and mixing new music, communicating with business partners and friends all over the world, through email, social media, text messages, testing software, writing reviews and thoughts and plans, watching a movie or some TV show with the family, all of it in front of a screen.

It’s got so far that I found myself spending at least 10 sometimes even 12 and 14 hours almost nonstop with some breaks in between in front of the screen. Small screen or big screen makes no difference. And this is not me, I don’t want to spend that much time in front of screens. So I needed to come up with a plan how to reduce screen time and still be able to do the work I want to do and if necessary put the long hours in without spending all of these hours in front of a screen.

First  step of course is to schedule breaks and  separate work and nonwork times. On this path I’m getting back to force myself to take one day per week off.

Next step is to reduce social media time. I do not spend as much time as I used to anyway, but reducing it a bit further can help. The first thing to be reduced is my Facebook artist page, which honestly never have been much of a priority to me.

Another step is to get back to pencil and paper. And this is what I did:

screenless page 1


screenless page 2

Let me lead these for you in case you cannot make a out my writing techniques to go screenless

1) take notes on paper and scan instead of iPad/Laptop  etc.
2) don’t use expensive scanner, smartphone photo is enough
3) re-activate mind mapping techniques in small-scale
4) schedule practice times so that they break screen time
5) read boot in paper whenever possible
6) listen to our new books instead of screens whenever possible
7) scheduled breaks and errands to interrupt screen time (do not be in front of the screen for the brake/pause)
8) try to prearrange and pre-produce  on paper (also analyze)
9) use a dictation app/service to write notes/emails etc.
10) turn screen off when mixing
11) take mixing and producing notes on paper (scrapbook) instead of screen/mind
12) print to do lists and monthly plans on recyclable paper

 As you can see if you can see from the picture the next step was to start using dictation software which is what I’m doing right now writing this document. And one of the other steps is to use text reading software to read back what I don’t want to read.

Also a few months ago I started writing the to do lists on a big paper and hang it in my studio so that is always visible. And on this it would contain anything I needed to do whether it’s professional private or whatever. This is how it looked in 1 November 2014  two A3 and one A4 paper listing all the  things I need to do:

blurred plan IMG_0541 from 1_11_14

As you can see some of these are crossed out becausethey were done,some are not and will survive to the next iteration of the paper. It helps a lot to see things being crossed out and every time my it to see what’s to do and what is left. Today two months later I have only one piece of A3 paper. It will become more and it will become less. It does’t matter.

As the days and the months go by, I will update you on how it works out for me and give you more details on each items or new ideas. And if you have some suggestions or ideas you’d like to share, please do write a comment below.

Oh and a happy, healthy and creative 2015 to all of you.



About the author

Panos Kolias is a film, tv and concert music composer and musician.
He regularly produces cues and other commercial music for major television programs like CBS, ABC and others.
He's a part of the electronic duo DubLion Project and works also as a musician, educator, orchestrator, and technical consultant.
Besides composing for TV and film and composing concert music, he holds a lecturer position at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg, teaching Music Technology and Film scoring courses.

2 comments on “Reducing screen time”

  1. Peter Reply

    I have battled many times between the computer and paper. And for me it just seems the change from one medium to another is more important than the actual medium I am using. When ever I have been taking notes in the computer for to long, say a few months or even a year, and I switch to paper it feels refreshing again, I made the switch back in forth a few times in the last 10 years. And I am glad to see your getting you blog going. I had mine going strong for a little while a few years ago, and have pledged to get it going again this year.

    • Panos_Kolias

      Thanks Peter. Yes changing back and forth is very refreshing, and can be very effective to. For what is worth the computer is effective in many ways, so use it wenn it gets the job done faster is not bad, but fighting with software wenn all you need is a short sketch of your thoughts nothing beats paper. So I hope to find a good balance again. I do love paper I must add. 😉

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