Pondering the Digital Detox

Ironically long. Sorry for adding to your screen time.

In early June, Joe and I were watching an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, when we were introduced to former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris. If you’re intrigued by what a design ethicist is, well, that was my reaction too! As Tristan said, the challenge of his job was to “study how you ethically manipulate what 2 billion people think everyday,…[because] no matter what we do, a billion people’s minds are jacked into an environment that a handful of technology companies make.” He continues, “I got really interested in, ‘How do you ethically steer what so many people are thinking and believing?'”

His segment caught my attention completely, and it’s something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since.

Specifically, he has this analogy that smart phones are like slot machines — not least because we interact with them much like their noisy, flashy Vegas counterparts (that “pull down” swipe is pretty similar to pulling the lever on a slot machine, no?). But more importantly, they offer a variable reward system. Sometimes you pull the lever and your Inbox is empty. Sometimes you pull it and get something really good. It makes it highly, highly addictive.

The segment caught me at an interesting moment in my relationship with my iPhone. I’d been on a tear staying up way too late, feeling disconnected from simple pleasures in life, and would end nights feeling like Joe and I had barely talked (despite having sat next to each other on the couch or in bed for hours). Alarming in this pattern was the fact that I’d awake completely exhausted, and my late night habits made me feel like I couldn’t commit to waking up early in the mornings to work out — despite knowing how desperately I needed to get back into an exercise routine.

The dumb part about staying up so late was that my consumption patterns were usually pretty pointless. Tell me, does this routine sound familiar?

Open Instagram. Scroll for X number of minutes (probably more than 10, hopefully less than 60). Exhaust volume of interesting content. Close Instagram. Open Facebook. Scroll, until you (again) exhaust volume of interesting content. Open email. 1 message, some dumb newsletter. Open Snapchat. No one has posted because no one uses Snapchat anymore. Go back to Instagram. Did anyone post a new story in the last 30 minutes? No? Open Facebook. Ooh, a new article to read! But also, I wonder if anyone has sent an email. Gmail check. Nothing. Hmm, I wonder if anyone has published a snap…

You get the idea, right? I had basically built my own homemade casino, and there I was, spending the entire night at the slots.

So yeah, I’d already recognized how negatively my iPhone habits were affecting my life, but hadn’t done anything about it. This segment was the kick in the pants to do something.

An App Overhaul

If you dig into articles Tristan has written or participated in, there are a few recurring recs he talks about. I immediately implemented none of them, save for one: I reorganized the home screen on my iPhone, tucking many of my social media apps into folders. Pre re-org, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat all had prime placement on my home screen (with Gmail, Instagram, and Twitter most prominently available, in 3 of those 4 slots along the bottom of the home screen). Post re-org, Gmail remained in the bottom 4 icons, and the remaining apps were placed into a folder I’d previously created to house other work apps. Within that folder, only Instagram and Facebook appeared on the folder’s “front” page (meaning once you tapped on the folder to access the apps, I could see those two, but I’d need to swipe one or two times to access the other social media platforms “hidden” on pages 2 or 3 of the folder).

For the first couple of days, moving my apps around quickly made me notice when I was opening Instagram. It’s the go-to time passer waster for me, so that extra step of tapping the folder and then tapping the app meant I became very conscious of when I was accessing it. However, within a few days, it had become second nature to make that extra tap and open it.

But something interesting happened. As quickly as I became accustomed to opening a folder to access Instagram, the circle of apps I was going through in my “app dance” had also shrunk. In fact, I realized about 3 or 4 days after reorganizing that I hadn’t opened Snapchat or Twitter the entire time.

Like Tristan said, if you “hide” the apps from yourself, it’s pretty easy to forget about them (which begs the question about how much value they were really adding to your life in the first place…more on that in a bit). I’ve left Twitter on the second screen of that work apps folder, and it’s been totally out of sight, out of mind. I realize this sounds like a small thing to do, and an even smaller thing to eliminate from one’s life, but it has amazed me how moving the placement of these apps around totally rewired my brain. These days, I probably check in on my Twitter app once a week; even less on busier weeks. Snapchat became so pointless that two weeks ago, I deleted it from my phone. It seems ridiculous, but a couple years ago, that would’ve been unthinkable.

Something else has happened since eliminating just a few social apps from my life. Even though I still check in on Instagram regularly, I find myself increasingly bored with it. Maybe it’s the nature of the platform itself these days (that the algorithm makes it so difficult to see content from accounts I love is bad enough, but as fun as stories can be, they have a glaring design flaw in that there’s NO WAY TO HIDE SPECIFIC USER STORIES WITHOUT UNFOLLOWING THE USER). I catch myself noticing when I’m watching stories of people I can’t even remember following, and I’ll exit the app quickly (nothing can slap you into consciousness more than asking yourself, “Wait, who is this person and why am I watching a video of their dog and toddler?”). Plus, Stories has upped the ante in terms of users doing very little to engage with a LOT of content, ironically making scrolling through the image feed feel even less appealing. In Stories, you can literally just tap once, do nothing more, and have a huge volume of content served to you (entertainment quality not withstanding); in the feed, it’s not uncommon to get tens of photos I don’t care about in sequence, which makes me have to scroll, scroll, scroll. In the world of social media navigation, that’s a lot of effort for not a lot of reward. The net effect is that while it’s still part of my iPhone routine, I’m spending less time in Instagram on the whole.

Social Media and Anxiety

Several years ago, when I would post to Instagram two, sometimes even three times per day (OMG), I can remember a sense of panic that would set in if I hadn’t posted at set times. Going a week without posting would’ve been extremely uncomfortable. Over the last year, I’ve found myself posting less anyway — due to lack of content, spending less time on the app, and generally trying not to let Insta-anxiety play a part in my life. That particular set of anxieties has receded, and I feel good about it. I can go for weeks now and not post something, and while I remember that I haven’t, the thought is like a gnat circling my brain; a quick swat at it and it’s gone.

But interestingly, a new type of anxiety has emerged: how does one run a small business that’s reliant upon participation in the digital space, without actively participating? That is to say, maybe I have work related FOMO. I worry about people forgetting about me. Or wondering whether I’m still open for business. I got a message from someone recently on Instagram asking me if I was still offering design services. That they hadn’t visited my website was obvious, but I wondered if my lack of posting on Insta made them think I’d gone AWOL on services too. Has social media participation become my new work/life balance conundrum? It’s a double edged sword: I find it tedious and anxiety producing to participate in any real way, but it also feels necessary in today’s digital/creative environment. Fellow creatives, do you grapple with this too? I guess I’m saying I haven’t figured out how to be an active part of the community and use these marketing tools to my advantage without also letting it take over my life (and mind). I’m not typically one for such binary choices, but with social, it somehow feels like an all or nothing thing.  Maybe finding the middle ground — the shades of grey — is still a work in progress for me. I suspect we’re all in that same boat.

I struggle with what social media will mean for my future, too. I can deemphasize the importance of social media all I want in my own life, even in my own marriage. But what about if you have a kid? How do you allow them to participate in what will undoubtedly be a part of their culture without letting it have a negative effect on them? This is something I honestly worry about a lot as we ponder parenthood (further reading on this down below).

Digital Rebels

This month in GQ, Aziz Ansari did an interview in which he confirmed that he deleted the Internet from his life. Seriously! His iPhone has text messaging capabilities, and that’s pretty much it. He deleted all social media apps, email, and even his Internet browser off his phone. He told his interviewer:

“Whenever you check for a new post on Instagram or whenever you go on The New York Times to see if there’s a new thing, it’s not even about the content. It’s just about seeing a new thing. You get addicted to that feeling. You’re not going to be able to control yourself. So the only way to fight that is to take yourself out of the equation and remove all these things. What happens is, eventually you forget about it. You don’t care anymore. When I first took the browser off my phone, I’m like, [gasp] How am I gonna look stuff up? But most of the shit you look up, it’s not stuff you need to know. All those websites you read while you’re in a cab, you don’t need to look at any of that stuff. It’s better to just sit and be in your own head for a minute. I wanted to stop that thing where I get home and look at websites for an hour and a half, checking to see if there’s a new thing. And read a book instead. I’ve been doing it for a couple months, and it’s worked. I’m reading, like, three books right now. I’m putting something in my mind. It feels so much better than just reading the Internet and not remembering anything.”

I’ve wondered if I could do the same. Deleting all that shit off my phone feels completely Draconian, and at the same time, completely tempting. A true rebel move for the 21st Century. Aziz, of course, has it a bit easier because he’s Aziz and presumably has a whole team of people helping him manage his personal and business affairs. But it is interesting to think about building a life that doesn’t require that type of constant connection to a device, and still run a successful business.

Lest I sound like some kind of late blooming luddite, I’m not against technology — or social media! — by any stretch. Technology has brought a lot of joy into my life from a very young age, and I’ll never cease to be fascinated with its evolution. But I struggle with how to integrate certain aspects of tech into my life — social media specifically — in a way that consistently feels useful, productive, even fun. I think Tristan’s on to something when he talks about current platform designs “hijacking” our minds. Yes, I double tap one user’s image because I like it, but when I’m subsequently served 5 or 10 other shares from that user that I don’t want to see, is this really a well designed thing? Auto-play was invented to keep us in apps and on sites, so that ads can be served. I’m cool with apps and sites making money…but what’s the balance in which we’re not sucked in and lose our sense of choice?

I don’t have any answers on how to strike this balance or how to completely alleviate the anxiety that seems to come with participating (or NOT participating) in this weird digital culture we’re all a part of. For now, I’m continuing to experiment with time away from these spaces, and to work on ensuring that my time spent in them feels fun and purposeful. When it’s not? I’m out. Or at least, I’m going to try to be.

So, questions for you, for reals: do you feel addicted to your phone? I’m guessing yes. What are your feelings towards platforms like Instagram these days? I’ve had a number of friends recently mention they felt “over it,” but were addicted to the time wasting aspect of it. Do you find that your addiction to your device has ever held you back from something you want in life, be it big or small? If you’ve been in the same boat as me, what steps have you taken to reduce social media consumption in your life? And fun to think about: could you pull an Aziz and delete all apps from your phone, save text and the phone itself?

PS: ironically, someone recently asked me about how I keep track of all the articles I share in VMS Digest posts. I have a bunch of strategies, which I plan to share soon. Writing this post helped me crystallize why those strategies work without driving me crazy and sucking me into the vortex. I think the bottom line is that if you love to discover content that matters to you, you’ll find places that give it to you, and it doesn’t feel like (as much of) a waste of time. More to come on that soon.

Easy Steps to Reduce Time on Your Phone

(many of these are Tristan’s excellent suggestions. Trust me, they work!)

+ Hide your apps. Reorganize things so that apps are in folders, and you can’t see the mostly highly addictive ones. Or, move apps to screens two (or higher!) on your phone, so that they’re not at all visible on your home screen. Just swiping a couple times to access an app will force you to think about why you’re going in.

+ Use the search bar of your phone. Instead of tapping Instagram to open it, Tristan recommends accessing your phone’s search bar and typing in “Instagram” to open it. That intentional act of typing in what you want to do can often slow you down and make you think about whether you really want to engage with the app. I’ll admit, I haven’t done this one at all. The search bar remains useful only for apps I can’t find.

+ Practice awareness. If you find yourself thinking, “What am I even looking at?” take it as a signal to put down your phone and do something else. Like all things in life, checking in with yourself and following your own intuition usually leads to pretty good things.

+ Settings are your friend. It’s super obvious, but when it comes to push notifications, turn that shit off! I’ve been with friends whose phones blow up literally every 10 seconds with email, Instagram likes, and Facebook notifications. I truly can’t understand how they live like this.

+ Read/watch some of the articles I’ve linked below. Counterintuitive to the premise of this post, sure, but I think these are all pretty interesting and might get you thinking objectively about your own relationship with your phone.

Other good reading:

The Binge Breaker // This is a great long form piece that goes into how Tristan got into this line of advocacy work in the first place, including some of the work he did in the Valley.

Tristan’s TED Talks // 1) “How Tech Could Better Protect Us From Distraction,” and 2) “The Manipulative Tricks Tech Companies Use to Capture Your Attention”

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? // This article from The Atlantic has been making its rounds over the last couple of weeks. I found its discussion of how tech has shaped the next generation really interesting. There were plenty of moments in which I was reading about teenage culture today and felt like there was a true disconnect from their generation and mine.

Our Minds Have Been Hijacked by Our Phones; Tristan Harris Wants to Rescue Them // A really good interview with Wired, though I think his interviewer was a little skeptical of the whole “design ethics” thing.

Real Time // The Real Time with Bill Maher segment that got me thinking about all this in the first place!

Aziz Ansari on Quitting the Internet, Loneliness, and Season 3 of Master of None// Aziz Ansari’s GQ interview. Beyond the tech stuff, he talks a lot about his work on Master of None, among lots of other fun stuff.

Time Well Spent// Tristan’s non-profit. They also have a Facebook group that shares a lot of good articles.

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28 Comments

  1. Sarah wrote:

    Thanks for the insightful post! I find it ironic that there is so much talk about limiting screen time and the dangers of smartphones for kids, and yet every adult is equally addicted!

    The single biggest step I’ve taken (it started as a New Year’s resolution) was buying an alarm clock (yes, they still make those!). It was under $10 on Amazon, and I no longer have an excuse to keep my phone 6 inches from my head while I’m sleeping. I leave my phone in my kitchen or living room charging overnight, and there’s no laying in bed scrolling Instagram mindlessly, or waking up and (again) checking Instagram or reading emails for 30 minutes instead of just getting out of bed. It has been life-changing!

    15 Aug 2017 · Reply
    • Victoria wrote:

      I hear you on the irony! For me, it’s more about, how do you invite this device/culture into their lives knowing that it can create a lot of issues for them, while also balancing their right to participate in that culture to begin with? It seems unrealistic to just be like, “Ok, you can’t ever have access to a phone or an iPad.” I obviously have zero experience with setting these types of boundaries for a child or teenager…I wonder if the “you get 1 hour of phone time a night” thing actually works. Any other parents wanna chime in here?

      Despite still using my phone as an alarm clock, my recent strategy has been to sign up for very early workout classes that I can’t cancel last minute without a fee. It both encourages me to get in bed and go to sleep by a reasonable time, and in the morning, there’s zero time to lay there and scroll! Thankfully, my phone usually does function as just an alarm clock in those instances (well, at least on morning’s I’m working out!). Funnily enough, my husband has a regular ol’ alarm clock but uses his phone to wake him up. Maybe we both need to go back to the old school way! :)

      Thanks so much for your comment, Sarah!

      15 Aug 2017 · Reply
  2. Liz wrote:

    I recently went on my first yoga retreat and upon arrival, I deleted Twitter and Facebook from my phone and vowed to not consume any news while there.

    I felt amazing at the end of the week.

    I think the biggest change with cutting out Facebook is that instead of being so focused on everyone else’s lives and the things they value, I was deeply in touch with my own needs and values that week. I came away caring a lot less what people think about me – and feeling a lot more free to carve my own non-conventional path, even if it isn’t a picture perfect Facebook post.

    And the news purge – my god, the biggest change. I consume a lot of news for my job and I think a general awareness of the world is good, but I had been consuming so much, I felt like the weight of the world was on me. By cutting it off, it was like my sense of hope and possibility was restored. I started to believe again that we can make this world a better place and our current political climate isn’t hopeless.

    Now, if I really want to access Facebook or Twitter, I force myself to log onto my laptop – really take that extra intentional step beyond just mindless phone checking. And I no longer consume news outside of my work hours.

    I still use both platforms and yes, in moderation, I think they’re pretty amazing tech and communication tools. But now when I look at Facebook, it’s with an inner intention to stay true to what matters to ME. And with Twitter, it’s about asking myself first if I really need to know this much info and the world actually needs me to Tweet/engage. (usually, no)

    I’m also jealous of Aziz. Would love to try the full purge.

    15 Aug 2017 · Reply
    • Victoria wrote:

      I love your comment, thank you for sharing!!!

      I have a secret about Facebook. My feed serves me virtually no updates on any of my friends’ lives (save for the big ones that are weighted heavily in the algorithm, like when people get engaged, married, pregnant, or have a baby). I’ll talk about this in another post, but several years back, I spent a significant amount of time training my Facebook feed to become a news feed of things I liked. That has its pros and its cons in and of itself, but it’s never been a place for comparison for me because of that. I also never share personal updates on my own profile page, so I don’t invite people’s comments/approvals of my personal life in that space.

      That being said, Facebook is a huge source of content for me, because my feed now only serves me articles, videos, think pieces, click bait essays, you name it. So while it doesn’t create FOMO or a comparison trap, it IS still a huge time suck, just like you said! I’m working on it. ;)

      15 Aug 2017 · Reply
  3. Laura wrote:

    Just popping by to say I LOVED this post. Really well written and thought-provoking. You definitely have me pondering whether to just cut the cord.

    15 Aug 2017 · Reply
    • Victoria wrote:

      Thanks, Laura! Even if you don’t go full cord cutting, experiment with moving apps around on your phone and hiding them from yourself. It really is pretty incredible how quickly you forget all about them. Come back and tell me if you do either move and what happens! :)

      15 Aug 2017 · Reply
  4. Kristen wrote:

    I used to be heavily into Twitter (viewing, not posting) and would spend hours a day dedicated to it. The day after the election, I decided not to go on all day – and while it was challenging for a little bit, I recognized very quickly that it was my mini-casino. Sitting in a cab? Let’s see what’s happening on Twitter. Waiting in line? Twitter. Deleting the app from my phone not only has saved me on a lot of space, but forced me to be more in the moment in these moments of “down time.” Like your reader below, I will sometimes go directly to a Twitter user via the browser or my computer, but that extra step makes it a lot more likely that I won’t fall into the time-suck.

    Next step, stop checking Facebook so often…

    15 Aug 2017 · Reply
  5. katie wrote:

    You can mute Instagram Stories! Hold down the picture of the person for a few seconds and an option comes up. It’s a lifesaver.

    15 Aug 2017 · Reply
    • Victoria wrote:

      OMG, thank you for sharing that tip!!!! Question: how long does “muting” a user keep them from showing up in your profile? Or is it indefinite until you unmute?

      15 Aug 2017 · Reply
      • Catherine wrote:

        It’s indefinite! I had the same issue but now I only see stories from people I actually care about!

        15 Aug 2017 · Reply
        • Victoria wrote:

          Amazing. How is this not in every Insta-hack article out there yet??? Now to go through and mute hundreds and hundreds of accounts…oy.

          15 Aug 2017 · Reply
          • katie wrote:

            Another blogger showed it to me at an event and it changed my WORLD. Plus, the muted people show up all the way to the right of the Stories at the top if you keep scrolling – so if you ever need to see one you don’t normally follow, you can.

            Now, if only they’d enact a feature where you can mute someone from your feed like Twitter ;]

            Great post by the way – didn’t take the time to write an insightful comment since I was too excited to tell you about this life hack ;]

            16 Aug 2017 ·
  6. Allyson wrote:

    I actually don’t feel addicted to my phone! I love being outside, so for me the phone is a distraction from that. Decidedly NOT the other way around. The phone is a resource. Period.

    One of my favorite things I’ve done to “train my brain” this way is to travel to foreign countries without activating data and even do so while traveling solo. It forces you to rely on yourself and the people around you, though you have the safety net of a smartphone when you get to wifi.

    Instagram is currently the only social media app that I have on my phone! I do love it, and love Insta Stories for the authenticity they (usually) provide. I’ve done a clear-out of who I follow recently which helps ensure I don’t spend my time “sifting” too much.

    Regardless, it’s great to be mindful of these things!

    15 Aug 2017 · Reply
  7. Kelly wrote:

    All of this. Yes. I need to spend more time with your post and click through all of your suggestions, but this issue has been on my mind a lot lately. I have started by moving my icons and that has helped a bit – but I’ve really had to train myself not to immediately reach for my phone while standing in line, the second I need a distraction at work, etc. Breaking these old habits is hard! But I believe the many benefits of being more mindful with technology use are worth the effort!

    15 Aug 2017 · Reply
  8. India wrote:

    This was such an interesting read, and so timely, considering I’ve been thinking about doing a huge social media detox. I’m a creative writer, and I feel like I do my best thinking/get my imagination flowing the most if I’m doing something not related to social media– whether that’s reading a book or talking to friends. I’ve also found that I’m on social media a lot as a way to distract myself from something I SHOULD be doing. It’s a way to get away from own thoughts instead of dealing with them, which is bad bc you’re essentially letting others do the thinking for you. My boyfriend told me social media makes me preachy– the more I’m scrolling through Twitter, the more I’m enraged, talking at him instead of to him, repeating things I’ve seen on the internet. That was a slap in the face for me. It has a way of telling you how you should feel before letting yourself sort out those things on your own. I LOVE social media– I’ve made such great connections there and have found some of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. But, I think for my own wellbeing, I need to do some form of a detox. Thanks for sharing, really!!

    15 Aug 2017 · Reply
  9. Jill wrote:

    Great article, with some great tips! I am in need of a detox 100%…I’ve started with kicking my phone out of my bedroom. A small step, but one that gets me more sleep and more reading. Win-win.

    15 Aug 2017 · Reply
  10. Alexia wrote:

    I agree completely. Yet I can’t stop “gambling” ughhh! Especially since my vision is pretty bad already, I know I need to stop using technology so much (all that time looking @ small text is bad for eyesight).
    On a completely unrelated note I was wondering if you had any experience with the Cuyana trench? I like the look from the website but haven’t found any first hand reviews and I know you live in SF and have posted about their stuff:)

    16 Aug 2017 · Reply
  11. Meems wrote:

    2:26 a.m. Yes, I am addicted to technology to fill voids in my life. I do not have kids and use instagram to follow people who have the lifestyle I wish I had (family, travel, fashion, health). I am trying to stay connected and hope you or anyone else reading this does not think I am creepy. Ironically, I unfollowed a bunch of people yesterday because I realized it was doing the opposite and making me feel even more empty inside. I actually just typed in your website address because I had not seen a post from you in awhile. You had given me some good advice last year which I appreciated. Well. Turning this thing off now. Thanks Victoria!

    16 Aug 2017 · Reply
  12. Niki wrote:

    I deleted both Twitter and Snapchat from my phones ages ago, and I don’t miss them. I actually never even added Facebook to my phone and if I need to check it, I do so during the day from my computer. I hide anyone and anything that I’m not interested in so it makes going through my feed less time consuming and wasteful. I also did the same with Instagram, I unfollowed a large amount of people. I couldn’t agree with you more about the people on IG Stories, where you don’t even remember who they are. To solve that, whenever their story would pop up, I would click on their username and unfollow them immediately. I could definitely see myself deleting the browser off my phone as well, it’s true, I use it mostly to look up dumb stuff to get immediate answers to dumb questions like “how old is Madonna?” I am not a personal business owner so I don’t grapple with how much it too much and how to stay connected in a balanced way, but it is true that when you visit someone’s social media and they are not active on it, you automatically think they’re not investing in that business anymore. Your question about about your device addiction holding you back from something big or small resonated with me because it held me back from investing more in my blog. I felt like the pressure to keep up with beautiful images and to constantly be documenting every moment of my life was something I was not interested in, but at the same time, seemed to be the only way to be successful in the blogging world.

    16 Aug 2017 · Reply
  13. Jill wrote:

    Great post. I think about this a lot. I have a toddler and so I have a love hate relationship with my phone. It’s amazing to have FaceTime and Snapchat to send pics and videos and to actually interact with family who live far away. I also really relied on my phone during the newborn phase for a sense of community, to have something to do while pumping, etc. But now that my son notices my phone, I’m worried about what signals it sends to him if I’m on it all the time. I worry about how to shield him from the ill effects of social media while not also making him an outcast among his friends later on. It’s tough and we are sort of pioneers because things are moving and changing so rapidly and no generation before us has had to confront these issues in their lives, relationships, and especially in parenting.

    16 Aug 2017 · Reply
  14. Kat wrote:

    YES. I have been thinking about this a lot this year. I go through periods of being really mindful of my social media/phone usage, & then I’ll have a week or two of being completely addicted again. The cycle is annoying, but I do feel like I’m slowly getting better about my habits. I also installed the Moments app on my phone so I can no longer ignore my phone usage.

    A few months back, my husband & I read a fascinating book on this topic called “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked” by Adam Alter – it was really eye-opening! The thing that stuck with me the most is that the people who originally created these Pandora’s Box type products (like Steve Jobs) never let their own children use them because they knew how addictive they were created to be.

    Since reading that book, I have often taken to leaving my phone in a separate room during the day (I work from home) because “the out of sight, out of mind” principle is so real! I find that on the days that I do that, I am much happier & feel more productive. We also leave our phones to charge in a separate room when we sleep, & we stop using them at least 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime so that the blue light won’t interfere with our sleep. I used to wake up & immediately start mindlessly scrolling through my phone, but now it allows me wake up refreshed & give myself some time to slowly adjust to the day before getting overwhelmed with all the (ultimately useless) information.

    I also deleted Facebook off my phone, but now after reading your post I’m going to do the same for Twitter (I can’t remember the last time I opened it anyway), as well as rearrange my apps so that Instagram is hidden on a separate page rather than be front & center on my home screen. Next up is to (slowly) start reducing the number of people I follow on Instagram, but I’m not looking forward to the inevitable distractions that process will cause!

    Thanks as always for such an insightful post!

    17 Aug 2017 · Reply
  15. Kristin M. wrote:

    This post comes at a time where I’ve been thinking a lot about my consumption of digital media & how it feels like I can’t “give it up.” I’m constantly frustrated with myself that I can’t watch a tv show or movie without picking up my phone half way through it. I hate that I’m consumed with digital content that most often isn’t benefiting my life in any way. I too watched that Bill Maher episode and when you think about the tech industry approaching consumers like the cigarette companies, trying to get us addicted, it’s actually quite nauseating because you can’t blame them …. only ourselves. Great article, thanks again for sharing!

    17 Aug 2017 · Reply
  16. Absolutely love this post and it’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about all the time recently. Whenever I have a lag in work, when my husband takes out pup for a walk, when I’m waiting for coffee: I feel like I automatically click into Instagram. Even if I exit it, I find myself clicking back into the app a minute later, just out of habit. It’s definitely addictive and most of the time I don’t even find anything interesting to look at!

    I’m at the same place where I’ve just been not posting regularly anymore, trying to take more breaks from my computer and social media in general. But it’s definitely something to worry/think about as a small business owner. I feel like I should be constantly “creating content and posting value” so that others find me and I attract clients. But I hate that cycle. So I guess now I’m just in the same place as you, trying to figure out if there’s a way to balance being on social media to keep my business going, and not getting carried away with it.

    I think the thing that has helped me the most, is cutting down on which platforms I check. Instagram & YouTube are basically the two that I’m on often enough, and everything else I’ve cut out (for the most part). So that helps, I think. Definitely something to think about though, and a struggle that most business owners are probably facing right now!

    30 Aug 2017 · Reply
  17. I just found out that my company will soon block all personal apps on our work-approved phones. My mind starting racing to buying a new iPhone, purchasing a plan. I’ve never had to pay for a cell phone bill in over a decade of working. Then I started thinking, ‘Wait. I can do this. I don’t need all those apps. Are they really necessary?’ I think I’m going to try it and see how it goes.

    30 Aug 2017 · Reply
    • Victoria wrote:

      Ooh, what a fun experiment! If you go through with it, come back and tell me how it goes/how it impacts your life!

      1 Sep 2017 · Reply
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