Cleanse your phone, cleanse your soul

It's one of our least favorite habits that we can’t seem to quit: scrolling for miles on Instagram before going to bed, knowing it will only delay our precious sleep. Or, just turning to social media to fill random gaps of time that quickly turns into 15 minutes or more down the drain. It’s a less than productive use of time and often makes us feel more anxious, heightening the urge to compare ourselves  to others rather than living in the moment. And it can be even harder to disconnect when we are dependent on our phones for work or to stay in touch with family. 

Because of these obligations, going on a full-on digital detox is not possible for everyone. That said, there are some small, easy changes you can make to cut through the clutterTry these one at a time or all at once to see how you can be more thoughtful about how you spend your screen time.

Utilize the ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting

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Hearing the buzz of a notification can be enough to send us  down a social media rabbit hole, and sometimes we hear phantom notifications when there are none at all. Turning on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode can be an easy way to get rid of this trigger. Instead, consider designating certain times or intervals  for checking your phone, and just let it be in the meantime. 

Enable timers and track usage

Instagram, Facebook and other apps now allow you to set yourself a timer for how much time you spend on an app, notifying you once you have reached your daily allotment. Apple’s Screen Time allows you to see how much time you spend on your phone per week, broken down by app. Although it can be scary, being confronted with the raw numbers can be a healthy shock to the system. Abiding by timers and making a conscious effort to reduce weekly screen time is a tangible, trackable way to stay engaged IRL.

Delete certain apps entirely, or log outs of accounts

One of our  best strategies for cutting down on social media time is occasionally  deleting the Instagram app entirely, and only looking at it once a day on the web version, if that. Without the app there to check mindlessly, that time could be used in some other way. And honestly, we didn’t miss it. The once a day maximum was more than enough, and we instantly felt higher levels of self-esteem and lower anxiety.

If you can’t delete apps, log out or change the location of apps on your screen

For apps that you can’t delete for work reasons, or can’t bear to part with just yet, moving their location on the screen of your phone is another way to fend off the urge to mindlessly check them. We often find ourselves going on to Instagram based purely on muscle memory, so moving its location makes this impossible and can be a gentle reminder to turn your attention elsewhere. Similarly, if you log out of certain accounts, the hassle of having to log back in can be enough to get you back into the physical world, where your friends and loved ones are waiting for you!

Emily CerfComment