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January 6, 2020

I recently found a quick productivity hack so that I spend more time reading than checking my social media profiles. Does the following sound familiar to you? You have a short break at work, waiting at the coffee machine or you’re sitting on the toilet. Chances are high that you have your smartphone on and check the latest posts on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

I’m certainly no exception to this and always have a bad taste in my mouth as soon as I put my phone down. What was I doing there? Did anything I read or watched was really relevant? Probably not. But social networks are engineered to grab most of your attention even though they provide little value. At the same time, I’m disappointed in myself when I can’t manage to finally finish a book or have a huge backlog of articles I finally want to read.

To fight social media addiction and the associated fear of missing out (FOMO), there are countless tips and tricks. Only checking your social media accounts at certain times is one of the more conservative, banning all social media apps from your phone, as proposed by Cal Newport in Deep Work (highly recommended!) and Digital Minimalism (atop my have-to-read list) is on the radical side. Although I highly recommend both books, all of these approaches don’t work for me since I somehow always find enough reasons to keep my Instagram app installed or keep logged in to Facebook in my web browser.

A simple trick to read more

Thanks to a blog post (that I, unfortunately, can’t find anymore, sorry fellow blogger!) and the fitting xkcd, I found an intriguing productivity hack to put my breaks to better use:

Place your Kindle app right at the position where your favorite social app has been.

For me clicking Instagram was becoming second nature. Now every time I unlock my phone I find myself inside a Kindle ebook. Reading for two or three minutes won’t change your life, but it’s the small things that sum up. And two or three minutes of reading is still better than two or three minutes scrolling through a never-ending news feed.

Sure, this effect will fade, too, as the comic makes painfully clear. But at least for some weeks I will increase my reading time and maybe find myself able to take the plunge and remove Instagram from my phone for good.

What are your best tips to not check your social media accounts in every free minute? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me.

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