Maddie’s Media Diary

From Wednesday, February 15th, to Monday, February 21st, I kept track of my media usage and consumption, including app usage on my phone, laptop, and smartwatch, total time on different apps, and time spent reading or listening to news. I recorded the majority of my usage manually (to the best of my ability) while also using RescueTime to track the activity on my computer. I created the charts below using info.gram.

Below are various charts showing my usage as well as my takeaways from the entire experience:

Technology Usage

I broke down the various methods I consumed media by tracking my activities on each platform. I also kept track of my sleep to show the stark contrast each day between watching television and resting.

Additionally, here is the day-by-day chart of my technology use:


By looking at both charts it’s clear that my time is largely taken up by staring at either my MacBook or my iPhone. This is largely due to my app consumption, especially Netflix (for my laptop) and Twitter (on my phone). I was somewhat surprised by my Apple Watch usage, partially because I thought I looked at it fewer than I do; I averaged 75 glances at my watch each day.   

Application Usage

My media consumption is largely done through an app on either my laptop, phone, or smartwatch. Though I currently have 151 apps installed on my iPhone, I only used these 11 apps for a statistically significant amount of time over the six days:

  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • Outlook
  • Twitter
  • Podcast
  • Slack
  • Instagram
  • Microsoft Word
  • Facebook
  • WhatsApp
  • Text

Here is my total app usage over the past six days:

Additionally, here is the total number of hours spent on each app:


I do wonder how much my app usage depends on my schedule each day. For those where I’m in class more, I seem to rely far more on Outlook and Twitter. But when I’m home, Netflix is the dominant app by far and away. I wish I could’ve seen a snapshot of my usage only a year ago. I know my Twitter usage would’ve been much higher, as I’ve noticed a drop off over the last several months in the time I spend on Twitter each day. This may be due to my exhaustion of political news or simply a move away from checking Twitter compulsively throughout the day for news. Also, I’ve started using Slack more now that I’ve joined a startup team, and we use it as our main means of communication.

Reading Habits

Finally, I wanted to see how much of my day I dedicated to consuming news, and more importantly, how I choose to do so. I know my use of Twitter has decreased over the last several months, but I wasn’t sure if I had dropped from one of my most used apps.

A large portion of my news consumption comes from podcasts, including:

  • This American Life
  • Reply All
  • What What Don’t Tell Me
  • The New York Times’ The Daily
  • NPR Poltiics Podcast

Here is a the breakdown by day of the total number of hours spent on each app each day:


The biggest surprise for me came out of my little use of Facebook. I always assumed it would be one of my most used apps, but I rarely check the app unless I have an event or a friend request. I also included my time on Messenger because it was such a small portion of my overall time on the app.


Maybe the biggest thing to take away from this exercise is how little I sleep or do anything without a screen in front of my face in some way. I’m always inundated by media in some fashion, and the majority of it is something I do without even thinking, such as listening to music or checking my email on my watch or phone.

When I finished my analysis, I realized that I only spent approximately 13 hours in the total 144 hours of the six-day period doing non-technology activities, such as talking with people. It made me realize that it may be time to schedule some sort of technology break for a few days, if only to refresh my mind and remind myself that things are going on around me and not just on a screen.

Jeneé: Media Diary

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Josh’s Media Diary: A Tale of Three Devices

The timing of this assignment was a little fortuitous, because the past few months have forced me to reflect on exactly what I read, when, and why. During the 2016 election I became a true Twitter junkie (the communication proclivities of one of the candidates didn’t help) and seldom made it away from the platform towards longer-form content or into a slower-paced environment.

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Sruthi’s Media Diary

The big picture

By Tuesday (21st of Feb) early morning, I tracked about 5.5 days of media usage totalling about 46.6 hours. I used 4 distinct sources of technology – Macbook Air, iPhone, Echo and paper. I used RescueTime to track usage on my laptop, Moment app to track usage on my phone and my good ol’ brain for the rest.

Using a top down approach, following was my overall media usage broken down by category:

 Source: RescueTime, Moment and personal data collected; chart built using

My media usage amounts to about 35% of my day (46.6 hours out of 5.5 days tracked). I spend the rest of my day commuting (without using media), in class, meetings, running errands, socializing, working out and sleeping. Given sleeping forms a third of my day (7 hours per day), my media consumption though significant is not a very bad statistic.

Takeaway 1: Multiple media sources form the 35% daily average media usage for a multitude of tasks

From the smallest to the largest source of media consumption…

Echo (daily average ~ 10 minutes)

Echo has been primary news source in the last week. I listen to headlines and short articles from NY times, WSJ, BBC and Economist as I get ready for the day.

Usually I try to scroll through my NY times, WSJ and BBC phone apps but the usage has been minimal in the last week.My news app usage varies but I find myself needing 15-20 minutes to go through all my news apps during the morning but I haven’t allotted the time since being back to school. I usually listen to news podcasts (economist and WSJ) on my walk to school, but given the snow / weekends my podcast listening has been non-existent.

Takeaway 2: Consume news (mostly headlines) during commute / multi-tasking

Print Media (daily average ~ 1-2 hours)

My print media usage is usually restricted for class readings – articles and cases. Given I am taking 5 courses this semester, all of which are qualitative, it makes sense to read 1-2 hours on a daily basis to prepare for my average 2 classes per day.

Takeaway 3: Print media restricted for coursework ~ associating print with serious media consumption

iPhone (daily average ~ 1.6 hours)

While on average my iPhone usage is around 1.6 hours per week, following is a snapshot of my phone usage for a single day which is reflective of my day-day consumption. I learnt a lot about my phone usage habits and they were pretty consistent with my love of productivity and addictive Instagram usage habits.


Using Moment app on my iPhone, I was able to track app usage by minute, location and time of day. Following is a snapshot for last Monday (20th Feb):

1. Throughout the day, I check my phone 60 times, that means on average once every 17 minutes (excluding 7 hours for uninterrupted sleep time) … clearly a sign of addiction. I used the phone, per check, anywhere from 2 minutes to 44 minutes with a median of 3 minutes, which reflects my fairly short attention span.

2. Home screen – I spend majority of my time using the home and lock screen, which is where I receive alerts from my various news apps. This indicates my sad habit of consuming news headlines in terms of alerts (I mostly get updates from news apps and outlook and check my phone periodically as my phone is always on night mode).

3. Productivity, productivity, productivity apps – sweat, outlook, weather, notes, app store – my focus has been on working out, emailing / checking calendar, taking quick notes, checking weather and getting more apps to improve my productivity. I am not surprised or shocked by the usage numbers given I feel I am at a minimal time per app.

4. Social networking – Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp – my Instagram usage is alarming. I have a preference for visual media consumption especially given my interest in following influencers in food, travel, health and fitness space. I feel Instagram is best suited to connect with influencers and brands I like.

Takeaway 4: Spend time reading in-depth investigative news articles rather than consuming news updates

Macbook (daily average ~ 3.8 hours)

I primarily love using my laptop the most because of the screen space and find it most convenient to use the laptop for both work and entertainment.

  1. Too much entertainment – According to my RescueTime dashboard, I spend 40% of my time on entertainment and rest on more productive applications like outlook and excel. Following is a screenshot of my overall usage last week by top applications used:Source: RescueTime dashboard
  2. Timeline analysis – I created the following heatmap for my three main categories (entertainment, communication and design) to understand my hourly usage patterns across the last few days. The richer the color, the more time spent in that category.

Source: RescueTime data; heatmap built with excel

My main takeaway from my usage indicates that I have productive work hours from 9 am till 8 pm and during the rest of the time I waste my time consuming Netflix for entertainment purposes.

Takeaway 5: Give up Netflix!!!!

Overall, I notice my media consumption is very self-centered in serving my own interests. I would be curious to learn how to a non-participatory citizen, such as myself, to be influenced by subjects outside my interest areas and how these topics could enrich my life.

Lauren’s Media Diary

I am going to focus on one insight I gained out of my media diary, in particular – I was shocked by the magnitude of hours I spend on listening to audio! I spent more time listening to podcasts this week than non-class activities for school (readings, research, and completing assignments).

Looking back, it does make some sense. I put on NPR every morning when I wake up, and whenever I can manage to listen to a podcast, I have one on. I consider listening to podcasts the perfect activity for multitasking when I am not mentally busy, but I can’t use my hands or look at a screen. I listen to podcasts when I am commuting anywhere (i.e. walking to and from class), cleaning, cooking, running, and getting ready to leave the house. I don’t remember the last time I applied eyeliner without a podcast playing in the background.

Because I listen to so much content this way, I thought I would dig into the kind of audio I am consuming, and I created the chart above. I am listening to more news and politics than anything else. I don’t think this is a bad thing, since it is the most realistic way that I will listen to more long-form journalism. I spent a few hours reading long articles through my Pocket suggestions and my print subscription of the New Yorker, but other than that and audio, I mostly get my news through my Twitter feed.

The problem I see from the chart is that I only listened to three audio sources in the news and politics category in the past week, and all of them are distributed by NPR. A big takeaway is that I need to work on diversifying the types of podcasts and audio I listen to for the news.

Please comment below with your favorite podcasts, news or otherwise!

Subina’s Media Diary

I should be tired of this now – the same diet every day. Before my kids burst into my room, I update my email, browse through twitter, and open the NYT on my phone. None of these works get complete. By the time the kids go out of the door, the loo awaits with the New Yorker, the LRB or the Private Eye. I manage to read half an article because I am always late for class.

On the way to class, a BBC podcast – In Our Time – often tells me about some philosopher or a historical event that I promptly forget.It’s also a great way to fall asleep.  On the road, I often check twitter and occasionally facebook. When I get frustrated, I read the headline of NY Times and then give up on news. It’s too depressing. Self control has been a great app. While working, I turn off facebook and twitter and get a solid hour. Otherwise, I flit – between writing and reading some random post on facebook that makes me numb. At night, I read – printed articles – so that I don’t get too tempted to browse aimlessly.

But the weekend was a special one. We were headed to NY on a bus – and that meant books were to be read. I managed to read a story by W Summerset Maugham  called ‘Rain’ – an assignment for class, on the bus. Then I read a book that I have been struggling with for a while – ‘An association of small bombs’ by Karan Mahajan – a story of an explosion in New Delhi. The fact that internet was intermittent meant I could really read.

In NY, my phone acted as a map. If you have five and six years olds, you soon realise that the best way to quieten them is to show them a moving blue dot on a complicated subway map. I showed my children films – on Netflix – projected on to a big screen. I watched Disney’s Tarzan and Finding Dory with my children. I used my phone to call and send text messages – and it felt that that’s what phones were made for.

On Monday, as the bus left NY, I held on to my phone and realized that the weekend is over. I went to my weekday mode, browsed twitter once again, read about politics in Nepal and when I got to US politics, I gave up. Twitter is way too obsessive and if I were smart, I’d have quit a long time ago.

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