Experiment: Will 2 Weeks off Instagram Help Me Focus Better?

Not the results I hoped for. How to handle social media in a productive way.

After reading Deep Focus by Cal Newport, I knew I have to work at my focus. I get distracted easily and even if I am working on something engaging, I can’t keep it going longer than 40–50 minutes.

Photo by Jeremy Levin

Break up with Insta

One of my guilty distractions is Instagram, my favorite social app. But, of course, others get in the way as well. I’ve deleted any social application with a feed, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and in the end IG. It’s not the first time I take some time off, but it’s the first time when Instagram is off-limits as well. It was supposed to be for a few days as I had a lot of work to get done at my current job.

A few days turned into 2 weeks, and I’ll be honest it was not difficult at all, but I checked my messages from IG 2 times from the browser (horrible speed), just because some people reach me just there. I could have easily not done that, realizing that if anyone needs to talk to me, there is more than one way they can do that.

Now, I would like to tell you that during these 2 weeks, where I’ve only used the instant messaging apps for social purposes, I’ve discovered a whole new universe outside my phone, that the sun seemed brighter and that I’ve been more focused, creative and productive than ever. Well, I didn’t, but something else happened.

Better distractions

As a person that gets easily distracted, deleting some apps, won’t stop me from finding new distractions, but even so, my mind got a little bit less foggy. What I mean by that is that when I was getting distracted, because there was nothing on my phone, I would spend a few minutes just thinking at random stuff, jotting ideas down, reading a few paragraphs, or watching something that I was interested in.

For once, I was choosing what to consume and think at while my brain was running from the important tasks. Instagram usually tells you what to focus on, and it can offer valuable information, but usually, it just makes you think that you are inspired by some beautiful aesthetics, motivated by some speech, or hyped about some new trend, when in fact your brain it’s just tired, and won’t produce any valuable ideas after scrolling for 30+ minutes (of course, that there are exceptions).

I am not here to vilify Instagram, it has a myriad of positive impacts and I could write about those in some other article, but it can mess up your brain a lot as well.

While a lack of focus can’t be blamed solely on social apps as I’ve seen for myself, how you make use of those short periods of time of distraction can be improved with less social apps interaction. Those moments are when your brain can come up with ideas, connections, and sparks of creativity.

While I still have to work at my deep focus, being off Instagram for only 2 weeks helped me have better distractions. I truly recommend this, and if you are thinking about how to start your first phone detox, read this.

We got back together

I’ve reinstalled the Instagram app on my phone, but now I am not opening it every 10–20 minutes, it’s like that automatism disappeared, I keep forgetting to check it (notifications are always off for my social media apps). I’ve realized that nothing happened there, everything that I ‘missed’ was just a bunch of content that I can live without because it doesn’t impact my life in a real way.

This made me think about how I want to use social media, yes posting some selfies and nice videos it’s fun and totally fine, but I don’t want to spend too much time curating that content. Instead, I would like to create something more useful, and I am not sure yet what could it be, but I am working on it. Ideally, it would be 80% of something useful, impactful, or artistic and 20% of the fun stuff from my personal life.

I think the real power of social media is that we can promote our work to a whole new level and connect with people interested in the same areas. We should take advantage of this while enjoying some beautiful pictures with people and places.

Originally published in Change Your Mind Change Your Life

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