It’s 7pm, you’ve just shlepped into your apartment after an hour-long commute, and the first thing you do with your post-work hours is check Instagram. Despite the fact that you spent 9-5 staring at a computer screen, you then check Twitter. Then Snapchat. Then Facebook. Then the next thing you know it’s midnight and you’ve watched more Insider Food videos and GIFs of cats giving side-eye than you care to admit.
You’ve accomplished nothing on the to-do list you made earlier in the day and you’ve yet to wash off the day’s cat-eye liner from your face.
It’s time for a social media detox.
Just remember if you find yourself here, on the precipice of needing a social cleanse but yet have no idea where to start, you’re not alone. We’re all slowly suffering from too much digital stimulation and it can be damaging to the ego to admit it’s time for a wifi break. Social media is everywhere and while you may know it’s healthy to take a break from perpetually scrolling Instagram Stories and actually pick up a book instead, it’s easier said than done.
Create a list of goals
What is it that you want to accomplish from putting your phone on the backburner? Making a list of the hobbies you wish you had more time for or would like to start up again will clarify your intentions and help you get the most out of the detox. Maybe you’d like to read more, spend an hour a day on your artwork, learn a new skill, schedule more in-person interactions with friends and co-workers, or meet new people.
Turn off notifications
Do you have app notifications that let you know every time one of your friends or favorite celebrities tweets or uploads a new photo to Instagram? How about those annoying Facebook banners that pop up every time a brand broadcasts on Facebook Live or someone you went to middle school with has a birthday? Turn them off. You don’t need them. The less you see the content that’s happening online, the less you’ll care about it.
Delete unnecessary apps
It’s not forever; you can always redownload apps without losing any of your log-in information or data. Delete the unnecessary apps on your phone that you either find yourself using infrequently or perusing aimlessly. Do you really need Tumblr, Pinterest, or We Heart It on your phone? Or Snapchat? If it’s a total time-suck of an app, get rid of it. It’ll be hard at first but soon you won’t even miss it.
Become acquainted with Airplane Mode
Airplane Mode is your new best friend. In a way, it’s kind of like time-out for adults but it’s also the greatest resource for detoxing. You’ll still have the comfort of having your phone physically nearby, but you’ll likely be less tempted to waste four hours scrolling through the same over-used memes over and over again if the wifi is temporarily disabled. Any time you don’t need to use your phone — like during your morning and evening commute or an hour before you plan to go to bed — switch your phone screen to a lower light setting and turn it to Airplane Mode.
Resolve to read during your commute
Swapping out your phone for a paperback book is a game-changer. If you have a morning/afternoon commute to work, resolve to tuck your phone in your back pocket and instead use that train or bus time to read print words. Your brain will thank you for a break from your overused LED screen.
It can be hard to commit to a social detox if your friends aren’t on board. If they’re still tagging you in Facebook statuses and new people are following you on Instagram left and right, you might want to consider going private for a while. On Facebook, you can change your Facebook wall to the setting where no one can write on your wall or post anything new. If you don’t want to worry about how many followers you’ve accrued, go private for a bit and deal with the issue of new followers later.
Outline a routine
A successful detox is nothing without an outline, as some structure will keep you accountable for your Internet-less goals. Write up a loose schedule, taking care to eliminate unnecessary social usage during times when you don’t have wifi and are using up your 3G and also leaving yourself an hour without technology before bedtime.
Are you in need of a social media detox? Let us know in the comments below!