How to recognize when you’ve been online too long and need to log off: Life Kit


Valeriy Kachaev/Spruce Books, Image 1 Valeriy Kachaev/Spruce Books Image 2 I check my phone as soon as I get out of bed in the morning. Before I even get out of bed, I’m checking emails, browsing Twitter and Instagram, and reading good morning texts.

I’ll continue doing that all day long till I retire to bed for the evening.
It’s difficult to gauge how frequently individuals use their phones. Americans are AA1 according to a recent survey.

You might not even be conscious of your behavior if, like me, a lot of your digital habits are habitual. You can use the questionnaire created by Log Off: Self-Help for the Extremely Online, creator Sammy Nickalls to evaluate your online behavior.


It might be challenging and even frightening to face the truth about your online behavior. Unplugging fully and getting off the grid is a common reaction that tries to swing the pendulum back in the other direction. That is not a sustainable strategy, according to Nickalls.

“Most of the time, you’re just entirely off of social media for a few of weeks,” she claims. “and what follows? You re-enter the online world without really having a strategy in place to determine how to strike a balance between being entirely offline and being overly online.”

According to Nickalls, cutting back on your internet time is more crucial if your web usage is making you feel off-balance. She recommends a technique known as “digital minimalism,” which was created by Cal Newport, a Georgetown computer science professor and the author of “ Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. .”

You can interact with the digital world in a way that is deliberate and suitable for you if you practice digital minimalism.
How to begin going is as follows:

Comic book-style illustration of a foot kicking through a phone screen with the words "CRASH" written above.
Valeriy Kachaev/Spruce Books
Comic book-style illustration of a foot kicking through a phone screen with the words "CRASH" written above.
Valeriy Kachaev/Spruce Books

Life Kit has

Try turning off push notifications and deleting social media apps from your phone to create natural obstacles to access them. If that’s not enough, you can use screen timers or app blockers to make it even tougher to log back on.

Setting these boundaries changes how you interact with the internet and social media, but that could also mean it changes how you interact with other people. “The really great thing about rolling back your social media use is that it kind of helps you see which relationships were kind of a bit shallow,” Nickalls said. “If the relationship is meant to stay, it will.”

If there are people you know you want to keep up with who you usually connect with on a particular platform, let them know how they can stay in touch.


Comic book-style illustration of a woman hugging a pillow in bed.

Spruce Books/Valery Kachaev I literally charge my phone next to my head on my pillow. Also you? Not ideal at all.

Keeping your phone away from your bed has significant benefits for relaxation, according to Nickalls: Have you ever stayed at a hotel and when you get under the blankets, it feels so nice to have some alone time? To get that feeling, keep your phone away from your bed.

“It’s like I got my presence of mind back when I put my phone outside of my room and simply let myself relax,” says Nickalls.

How sleeping without a phone affected a person’s wellbeing was examined in One study . More than half of the participants left the research after finding they couldn’t use their phones in their bedrooms for a week, according to the study’s co-author told CNBC . However, the researchers discovered that sleeping without a smartphone “improves sleep, relationships, focus and welfare,” as well as raising happiness and quality of life.

Insufficient quality sleep has also been linked in other research to mental health issues like anxiety as well as physical illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

Therefore, having a good night’s sleep is beneficial to your health, and charging your phone elsewhere may facilitate this.
Try charging your phone somewhere other than next to your bed, and monitor the effects.


Illustration of a hand reaching out of a phone holding a frowny face against a white backdrop

Spruce Books/Valery Kachaev

Illustration of a hand reaching out of a phone holding a frowny face against a white backdrop

Spruce Books/Valery Kachaev When you are logged in, ask yourself how you feel: Do you feel tense? Tired? Bored? Energized? Do specific apps elicit particular emotions? According to Nickalls, it could be challenging to identify these feelings at first.

Write down your feelings while online and examine any trends you notice. You can choose what to keep, what to discard, and what to minimize after that.

Create a social media experience that is tailored to you by looking through your timeline, unfollowing the accounts whose postings make you feel bad, and boosting the accounts that inspire you, make you laugh, or make you happy.

And log off immediately if you feel like your attitude is spiraling downward.


Woman peeks out over the top of a hardback book.

Spruce Books/Valery Kachaev

Woman peeks out over the top of a hardback book.

Spruce Books/Valery Kachaev According to Nickalls, it can take a few weeks to fully implement digital minimalism. Start by turning off social media for roughly a week, then gradually reintroduce your favorite apps over the ensuing weeks, one at a time. This will enable you to distinguish between the apps that provide value to your life and those that don’t.

“I deleted my Facebook and Instagram after going through this lengthy effort to figure this out since I realized there were essentially no benefits for me. I continued using Twitter because I simply cannot say no to it “says Nickalls.

If you start using digital minimalism and the Internet less, you might find you have a lot more free time. At first, it could seem difficult to decide what to do with all of that extra time.

CPR KIT List the things you like to do and the people you like to hang out with. Try one of those pastimes or make a call to a loved one when you want to go through your phone.

Being more deliberate with your use of social media and the internet is the aim of digital minimalism, not figuring out how to live without them. Instead of detracting from your life, technology should complement it.

That is the essence of it, claims Nickalls. It offers you the chance to develop in ways that you never would have thought of on your own.

Sylvie Douglis produced this episode’s audio part. Please get in touch with us. Send us an email at or leave a message at (202) 216-9823.

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