When You Can't Get Off Instagram

Written by Zach Grossfeld

At times, Instagram can seem like it’s taking over your life. It can if you let it. So, how can you disconnect? Can you run a business on Instagram and spend long periods of time away from the app. Here are some techniques that have helped me navigate the filtered world:


Instagram can be delightful, and it can also be the devil.

It is the home of beautiful creators who share their work with the world, photos of happy times with your friends, and a place to be who you are. But, it can suck you down a vortex of time that you will never get back. 

I’ve been there.

I’ve been the one to grab my phone in the morning, right when I wake up, and it ultimately kills my mindset at the onset of the day.

Instead of going out and conquering my goals, Instagram puts me in a reactive state where I’m emotionally responding to everything and everyone around me like the content on the app. I remain in a reactionary loop instead of a forward-thinking mindset. 

How is Instagram Motivated?

Before I get into some tips that have helped me navigate the filtered world, I think it would be helpful to get a perspective on what Instagram is.

To us, it’s a playground of dreams, likes, and fresh ideas. To the people who create the app, it is a fucking beast. Every modification, design, nuance is built to keep users on the platform as long as possible. 

While to the user, a “better” Instagram means balance, beauty, and ease of use, to the developers at Instagram, ‘better” means increasing the amount of time people spend within the app.

Our version of the ideal user experience does not align with the big boys and girls running the show. I don’t blame them, Instagram runs on profit, and that comes by selling information and ad dollars. 

To have a pleasant experience on the app, the user should be aware of this.

Instagram is like a slot machine.

Swiping is pulling the slot, and likes are the dopamine hits that come from hitting the jackpot.

We are trained to react to the reward of likes and comments. Instagram, at times, delays likes to keep you refreshing for more. 

So, what can you do about it? Nothing, we’re all going to die. Just make sure you crop a selfie before you do — XX Valencia, Juno, whatever filter you’re feeling. I’m just kidding.


Delete, Redownload, Repeat

For me, a couple of things have helped. First, make it a point to check the app at some point in the morning, before noon, but not right when you wake up. Get some separation between your day and social media.

Then, when you are done checking the app, delete it for the rest of the day. Redownload at night if necessary, but if not, then redownload the next morning. 

Drastic, I know, but this technique heightens the barrier of entry to the app.

No matter how badly you want to check it during the day, it’s a hassle to redownload the app while you’re nodding absent-mindedly on a conference call. At the least, log out of the app during the day. 

Not Life or Death

I’ve saved oodles of time doing this. I don’t even use the word oodles, that’s how much time I’m saving. And most important, I feel better. I’m aware that some of you are running businesses on Instagram and need to check it periodically during the day.

I’ve been able to keep up with my company on Instagram while temporarily deleting the app from my phone. I post, respond to DM’s, and surf for maybe 15 min in the morning; then I remove the app.

Nothing on Instagram is life or death.

It can wait until tomorrow, or later that night. 

You are not your Instagram.

It’s a tiny slice of the best parts of people’s lives, including mine and yours. You only post the content you want others to see, and others display the content that they want you to see.

Instagram is an enhancement, not a reflection of real life.

Sometimes, the enhancement is fake, which you may not realize.