Christmas Detox Anyone?

I constantly go in circles. One minute, my phone contains any and all apps I’ll ever need, and my three “evil apps” are on my phone. Reddit, Facebook, Twitter. I’ll use it this way for a couple weeks and when I see my screen time numbers I flinch and delete all the junk from my phone. Feeling cleansed, it feels like the weight of a thousand apps are off my shoulders so I resolve to run a cleaner phone.

This goes fine for a while, but then a friend will send me a Reddit post or tag me on Facebook, so I’ll download an app or two in a moment of weakness and before I realize it, my phone is filled up with junk apps again. Round and round I go.

Recognizing Christmas and family time are just around the corner, I want to make the most of it this year. I don’t want to be staring into my phone answering messages while my kids are doing something exciting.

I definitely have trouble living in the moment as it is. While I do practice meditation (as much as possible), I spend a great deal of time thinking of past events or looking ahead (and sometimes worrying) about future events.

I’m off work starting this Friday until the new year, so I’d like to make a real go of mindfulness and staying off the social noise as much as possible.

Just thought I’d advertise the idea in case anyone else wants or needs to do the same.

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Consider: Keep the apps off your phone. Turn on 2FA, and only use them in a private window in the browser. It creates some friction for logging in. I’ve found it’s too much trouble most of the time and I go on to other things.

The main issue I have with this idea (and it is a good one), is that I use 1Password. I can log out of things all day long but a simple face-scan and boom, I’m back in. LOL.

What has worked for me is to keep things off my phone, but let me use them on other devices (e.g. my computer). That way for things like a search for a specific question (where reddit might show up) or replying to someone on Facebook - I have to walk into a different room and rarely get sucked into it for more than a minute or two. On my phone I can mindless scroll forever. To do this 1) no apps on the phone and 2) I have freedom set up to block them all (except for a window at 3-4AM as a failsafe. If I ever want to change it I would have to set up an alarm to wake up then, which makes me feel better about enabling it).

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For what it is worth I have a couple of practical suggestions:

  1. Turn off the majority of your notifications. I have all of mine off with the exception of a short list of VIPs and calendar events.
  2. When you see something of interest send it to your task manager for review later. I’ve often found that this delay/friction results in my deleting it the next day–somehow it is not that important a day later. The same goes for any application I’m tempted to download–wait a day.
  3. If you have not already done so, I highly recommend Atomic Habits, Deep Work and Digital Minimalism

Just a few thoughts for consideration. Have a blessed Christmas with your family.

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Thanks. As an avid listener of Mac Power Users (and Focused) I do have all notifications turned off, unless it’s an email from a VIP (thank you stock Mail app). I have read Deep Work and Digital Minimalism, but I’ll circle back for sure – and thanks for the input.

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I would start with:

I don’t __________

and fill in the blank.
“I don’t split my attention between random internet things and my kids between 7:00am - 9:00am when we’re having breakfast.”

“I don’t” is different than “I can’t” (as in, “I can’t use my phone to see what that person on TikTok is doing because I’m eating breakfast with my kids.”).

The phrasing “I don’t” means that you have made a choice and a commitment, rather than being constrained by some externality, or a half-hearted “I don’t want to…”.

Choose and commit.



In the immortal words of Master Yoda: “Do or do not, there is no try.” :slight_smile:


I think Atomic Habits may be helpful. Here is an excerpt that I recently included in a book project I’m working on. This is always a helpful reminder when I’m struggling with developing good habits or disentangling from bad ones.

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent …

Habits often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance. In the early and middle stages of any quest, there is often a Valley of Disappointment.

You expect to make progress in a linear fashion and it’s frustrating how ineffective changes can seem during the first days, weeks, and even months. It doesn’t feel like you are going anywhere. It’s a hallmark of any compounding process: the most powerful outcomes are delayed. This is one of the core reasons why it is so hard to build habits that last. People make a few small changes, fail to see a tangible result, and decide to stop. You think, “I’ve been running every day for a month, so why can’t I see any change in my body?” Once this kind of thinking takes over, it’s easy to let good habits fall by the wayside. But in order to make a meaningful difference, habits need to persist long enough to break through this plateau—what I call the Plateau of Latent Potential.

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@AppleGuy I have one other suggestion, that may not be helpful or feasible for you but I’ll share it as food for thought.

To avoid the very issue you mention, I get up very early every (~5am) morning including weekends. I spend several hours writing, devotional time, and dealing with personal tech communications, etc., before the family is up. That way, I can devote 100% of my attention to my family when they are up and about. My family tends to be late to bed, late to get up whereas I am the opposite–early to bed, early to rise. :grinning:


Downloaded Atomic Habits on Audible today with my free trial. Looking forward to “reading” it.

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Good point! The remaining friction is still enough to remind me I don’t want to bother logging in by reflect.

Maybe take the URL out of the 1Password URL field for the offending sites. Now you still have the password saved, but you have to go into the app (or the plug-in interface) and search for it, and copy/paste the password…

But all of these are hacks. Your original idea is the lasting approach — train yourself to do other things instead.

If you cannot resist the pull of these apps, then give your FB, etc. password to someone you trust . . . and let them change it. Make them promise they won’t give them to you until after the holidays.

I’ve always found it easier to start a diet with a 2 or 3 day fast. The same method might allow you to de-zuck.