TT #2: Delete All Social Media (And Other Doomscroll) Apps
Tuesday Tips was originally a series of newsletters we launched to give early users actionable tips for how to effectively reduce their phone screen time. Because we saw such an enthusiastic response, we decided to post the tips on our website. To view all the tips go to getpresentapp.com/blog.
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Tuesday Tips #2: Delete All Social Media (And Other Doomscroll) Apps
This tip is one of the most effective ways to significantly reduce unnecessary phone usage. It was actually the first thing I did when I began to try and take control of my attention. It might seem drastic, but bear with me….
TL;DR: Delete all apps that cause you to constantly check your phone (social media, news, content, etc). Force yourself to only use these apps on your computer. After a week or two, you’ll stop the subconscious act of habitually looking at your phone every couple minutes, which will naturally bring your phone use down. Most people initially think this is a drastic measure, but after a couple weeks, you’ll realize you don’t even miss the apps.
It’s difficult to reduce your phone use because a lot of it is subconscious
You’re going about your day doing whatever it is you’re doing - maybe it’s making coffee or doing something for work or even watching Netflix - and then you look at your phone without even thinking about it. Maybe there’s something new and you begin scrolling or maybe there’s nothing new and you just put it back down.
But then you do it again a few minutes later. And again. And again.
We’ve all been there.
People check their phones hundreds of times a day without any external prompt. Even if you’re somewhere that has no internet and you know there is nothing new to look at, you’ll STILL check your phone every few minutes.
And this is because your subconscious brain has been conditioned to know there are apps on your phone that trigger dopamine.
But if you teach your brain that there isn’t a constant stream of dopamine-inducing apps on your phone, overtime you’ll break the habit of checking your phone every few minutes.
And this is important because a significant portion of time we spend on our phone comes from this unconscious behavior - it’s not because we consciously think it is a good idea/enjoyable to be on the apps.
If we break this habit, then you’ll naturally reduce your dependence on your phone.
But I know what you’re thinking
This is crazy! I can’t delete all social media! How will I keep in touch with friends or know what’s going on in the world? My FOMO is too insane to do something like this.
Well, I can tell you from experience, you probably won’t miss much. Most people who end up deleting social media apps don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything after a couple weeks.
I used to be hyper connected. Constantly scrolling Twitter, sending memes with friends on Instagram, and posting random Snapchats throughout the day.
I thought when I deleted these apps off my phone it would be difficult and I would miss them. But to be honest…
I didn’t miss them at all.
And I’m not alone. Almost everyone I know who deleted social from their phones feel the same way. This is because we vastly overestimate the benefit we're getting from these apps while underestimating the harm they cause.
I also want to be clear I’m not suggesting you delete your entire account. Rather, force yourself to only use these services on your computer.
If you only use these apps on your computer, you become more intentional in how you use them and you actually get more enjoyment from them instead of just the mindless checking/scrolling most of us do today.
But I’ll be honest with you: at first it is going to be uncomfortable.
The first time you’re waiting in line at Starbucks or sitting in the back of an Uber with nothing to do, you’ll immediately find yourself looking to your phone. When you realize there isn’t the same distractions you’re used to having, it’s going to feel uncomfortable.
But you have to embrace it. Learn to be alone with your own thoughts and be aware of your surroundings without the need to immediately distract yourself. It’s good for your mental health, but also trains you to not need constant hits of dopamine at every moment, increasing your productivity and ability to focus over time.
After a while, you’ll get used to it and realize that these apps weren’t providing as much value as you think they are. At that point, you’ll naturally have much more control over how you spend your time and attention.
And this is why Tuesday Tip #2 is: delete all apps that cause you to constantly check your phone. For most people these are social media apps, but it can also include email, reddit, news apps, etc.