Delete Your Instagram App
Delete your Instagram app. Not forever, but for at least 24 hours. I started this practice when I found myself being unproductive at work. At 8am I would tell myself, "Mad, don’t look at your Instagram again until your lunch break." If I was really lucky, I'd make it until about 8:03am before I was reaching for my iPhone again. Then I'd do things like set a 30 minute timer and hide my phone in my bag. This made it sliiiiightly more difficult to constantly refresh my feed, but I still couldn’t even make it the full 30 minutes without checking. So one morning I decided to stop relying on my non-existent Instagram self control and start trying something that might actually work: deleting my app off of my phone.
So, I deleted my app, but only during my work hours. From around 8am to 5pm my iPhone was an Instagram free zone. I was twitchy for the first hour or two. I constantly clicked the space where the app used to be which was now filled with Clarity Money, a constant cruel reminder that I had spent far too much money the weekend before. By mid morning I started to get into a work groove. I was working for 30 minute spans without grabbing for my phone at all. My main goal was a boost in productivity, but the unexpected happy coincidence was a noticeable decrease in anxiety. I felt SO good. I didn’t have the constant need to check in on the world because I couldn’t. I mean I could in the millions of other websites, but Instagram has been my center for everything. Its how I keep up with friends, family, the news, Chrissy Teigen, etc.
After my pleasant workday Instagram hiatus I tried a full 24 hours off the app one weekend. The effect was the same or better. My anxiety was low and my engagement with the world dramatically increased when my engagement with the internet became non-existent. I felt myself being more creative about the food I was preparing. I was motivated to create some of the paid content I had been pushing off due to lack of motivation. And when I did go back to the app I felt refreshed. I delighted in everyone's posts from the day that I had missed and left genuine comments instead of my usual "OMGGGG DROOOLING (insert drooling emoji)" which is also genuine, but c'mon, Mad, you can think of something better than that.
This week I extended my break to 3 full days. I needed it. I needed to take a step back. Mostly to remind myself that even if I'm not posting every single element of my day, it still has meaning. I LOVE Instagram stories, but I definitely fall into the "omg let me story every element of relatively uneventful work day" trap. I did many things over those 3 days that would normally go straight to my Instagram, but you know what? If it was TRULY share worthy, I sent it to my mom or a friend or my sisters and that made it much more meaningful than if thousands of people had seen it on my story.
So, if you've made it this far, this is where the cookie comes in. Have you ever done whole 30 or a 10 day sugar fast or anything similar? And then treat yourself to a truly amazing chocolate chip cookie or ice cream cone or piece of cake at the end? That piece of cake tastes SO MUCH BETTER than most of the other cake you’ve had in your life because you allowed yourself to go without it. Maybe you didn’t really miss the cake all that much by day 7, but once you have it again you realize why you had cake in your life in the first place. Am I losing you? Anyway that’s how I feel about taking a break from Instagram or any social media that begins to "rule" your life. Take a step back. Remove it from your life completely and evaluate how you feel.
During this most recent break I also deleted the snap chat app and nearly a week in I have yet to put it back on my phone. If it doesn’t add value to my life, why engage with it at all? I challenge all of you to take a break from Instagram. Start with once a week for just a few hours and work your way up to 24 or maybe a few days. Share your break with me using the tag #weeklyinstagrambreak !