Mindfulness in action: the month-long social media ban

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I'm not a stranger to self-deprivation.

Well, an idea came to me through dream inception last night.

I had a dream where I wanted to do a month-long social media ban. And then I thought in my dream, "well isn't this stupid? It's the middle of the month!"

But why wait? I've been thinking about it anyway but never really thought my social media use was out of control. Hey, I'd already deleted Facebook from my phone (truth) and I rarely scrolled through Instagram anymore (lie).


Some Serious Reflection

I'm a huge fan of Sean McCabe's work. His podcast and blog about business helped me launch my side business. I took a break from his content for a while, but came back to it recently when I picked up his book.

He said: think about where you want to be in life and in your business. Now think about the past six months. What have you been doing? Is it helping you move forward in your goals?

Welp. I think part of the reason I took a break from Sean's work is because it kinda made me feel like I wasn't doing enough. I felt personally attacked (which is ridiculous).

But instead of feeling attacked again, it made me realize that while I'm spending most of my time intentionally by prioritizing meaningful relationships and getting into a flow while working, there are still some pockets of time that I'm losing.

The Instagram Draw

You know. Don't pretend like you don't. Your alarm wakes up. Instead of hitting snooze (good job), you grab your phone and peel open your eyes and open Instagram (or your app of choice). You catch up on the happenings of the past 8 hours (because—let's face it—you caught up on the newest posts right before you went to bed). Then maybeyou get out bed. Or maybe you go into the other apps that have the red badge of urgency.

And then there are the times that you're sitting out on the couch, and after your little Instagram spiral you open another app, finish up, and then open Instagram again. Like, what is that? It's some crazy Pavlovian response that says "if I open this app again, it will temporarily make me feel the happies, just like it did last time".

It's known in the mindfulness world as the twitch. In fact, one of my internet friends has a blog called Break The Twitch.

So yeah, that's my relationship with social media in a nutshell. And I'm not proud of it.

Cold Turkey?

So there's this awesome (emotionally) lightweight phone on Kickstarter right now that I really want to get. Lightweight meaning all you can do on it is text and call. Well, and get the time and the weather and use it as an alarm and probably a myriad of other things that are considered essential tools.

But it's expensive. Which almost kind of defeats the purpose.

But the idea of going cold turkey on the extraneous apps is very appealing.

So then I thought, "Well, maybe you should just get an old school flip phone and switch off on using that instead of your iPhone".

Yeah, sure, I could absolutely do that.

And then I thought, "Well sheesh Jenn. You just bought an iPhone 8 Plus outright, and now you want to turn it off and put it in a drawer? What a waste."

There's a compromise here.

Dumb Down My iPhone

While I've taken drastic measures to reduce the emotional draw to my iPhone (like turning off text message notifications altogether and deleting Facebook), there are still things I could do.

*Glares intently at Instagram*

The Before: What's In My iPhone Now

Let's take an inventory of what's on my phone right now.

Well, here's the home screen. Featuring a cute picture of Florida Beans pointing up at the moon, but instead makes me think he's reminding me to look up from the screen.

Beans on my iPhone home screen

Beans on my iPhone home screen

In the first tile are my "bing" apps, the ones that capture my attention.

  • Reminders
  • Google Maps (which I only use to share my location with Chris)
  • Fitbit
  • Instagram *cold stare*
  • Trello
  • Slack
  • Messages
  • Twitter *another cold stare*
  • Spark Mail
  • Twinbody
  • Hoopla
  • iBooks
  • OverDrive
  • Libby
  • Repost for Instagram
  • Pinterest
Apps on my iPhone that I use for notifications

Apps on my iPhone that I use for notifications

The second tile contains all the *other* apps.

  • Phone
  • App Store
  • Weather
  • Photos
  • Find Friends
  • Maps
  • Safari
  • GoodNotes (for digital bullet journaling!)
  • Evernote (aka my brain)
  • Nike+ Run Club
  • Settings
  • iPeriod
  • WordPress
  • SimpliSafe
  • Google Authenticator
  • PaperKarma
  • Zappos!
  • Zulily
  • A myriad of financial apps, including Apple Wallet, Mint, Chase, Qoins, Cash, Venmo, PNC, PayPal, Discover
  • Amazon
  • Starbucks
  • Yelp
  • Wawa
  • GrubHub
  • Target
  • Etsy
  • The stupid apps, aka the ones that exist through other means in the iPhone: Contacts, Camera, Calculator, Health, Clock, Find iPhone
Other apps on my iPhone

Other apps on my iPhone

Then the other apps that I use all the time and are lucky enough to have their own spot on the dock: Calendar and Spotify.

The After: What Apps Should I Keep?

This morning as I'm telling Chris about my dream, he said, "You gonna do it? You can do it!"

So I'm like YEAH let's do it! (Insert cold sweat and nervous laughter here.)

But then I'm like, "Ugh, this is dumb, I mean, I can't just delete all the apps from my phone. I need these apps."

Well, that statement is partially true and partially not.

In thinking about the goal of this challenge—to use my phone as a tool and not a source of entertainment—there are only a few apps I need to delete.

Let's Do This: No Social Media and Limited Screen Time

Like I mentioned above, my screen time is a lot less than it was before. Especially since I cancelled Netflix and I don't watch TV with Chris.

For the next month, my phone will be a tool, and only a tool.

cleaned up iPhone to remove extra apps and social media apps

cleaned up iPhone to remove extra apps and social media apps

I already feel lighter. Yet it's going to be tough, because I also feel mild pangs of anxiety.

Twitter is my short quippy writing release. In fact, I've already created a note in Evernote titled "Things I want to Tweet".

Instagram is a HUGE thing for me to let go (well, yeah, I have four very active accounts I maintain.)

In general, I vow to completely stay off of Facebook and Twitter and any other social media apps I may be forgetting at the moment.

About Instagram, if I can find a reliable way to post to Instagram via another app (I came across a solution recently but I need to research it more), I will continue to do that, because it's part of my business.

My iPad(s—oops) will be used for some things that I've deleted from my phone, namely ebook apps and perhaps things like shopping apps. (Although let's face it—I could use a break from all shopping apps after my failed no-spend month and a strong bounce back from my shopping habits.)

In general, I think this will be an easy change for me. The dive into minimalism and mindfulness has been more of a slow wade, which must be the best way to do it anyway.

It will also be easy because in these next thirty days, we are going away on a working weekend, it's Beans' second birthday (with a big party at the apartment), and oh, I bought a houseand we're moving!

In all seriousness though, this challenge is very sobering for me. On (one of) my iPad(s), I have on the lockscreen, Create More Than You Consume.


My goal is to do just that. Instead of the five minutes I use to scroll through Instagram, I'll practice lettering on my iPad or will try to learn something new. Or I'll draft a quick journal entry.

I'll post a less-than-cryptic message on all channels saying I'm taking a break, and to call me instead.

You With Me?

Well, so yeah. I'm putting my money where my mindfulness-mouth is. Joining those who are in the ranks of being truly mindful and don't just talk about it on social media.

Wanna join in on the fun? Tweet me @jnnfrcyl with the hashtag #justsaynotophones.

TOTALLY KIDDING. I'm a huge asshole.

But yeah, if you wanna do a social media ban or a phone-as-a-tool-only month, comment below. Email me. Or if you have my number, call me and let's chat about it.

Cover photo by rawpixel