Image from Express UK

I deleted the Facebook app. For science.

Two weeks ago, I removed the Facebook mobile app from my iPhone. Here’s what drove that decision.

The Facebook app was the most used smartphone app of 2015 (TIME), which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Facebook claimed that the average US user spends 40 minutes daily on Facebook — almost 5 hours per week!

Always the overachiever, I certainly exceeded that amount. If I were to guess, I spent over an hour on Facebook each day. I checked it getting out of bed, while eating breakfast, while walking to work, during lunch, while watching TV, while hanging out with friends, before going to sleep. I was constantly on it. Sometimes I would close the Facebook app on my phone, only to reopen it three seconds later — it became a natural reaction, a process that I followed consistently:

Mind not occupied for 2 seconds → grab my phone → unlock my phone → go to my ‘Social’ folder → open the ‘Facebook’ app. Repeat.

Sure, sometimes I found educational or thought-provoking information there, but most of the time, I just scrolled through the News Feed viewing content that added no value to me.

A few weeks ago, I started consciously monitoring where I was spending my time to try to identify time sinks. Facebook was on the top of my list, and that really bothered me. I started thinking about how my life could be different if I consumed less Facebook (I didn’t want to remove it completely). Where would I spend my new-found time? Would I still be on my phone, just on another app? Would that app be more productive? Or would I be less distracted by my phone altogether and focus on other activities? There were so many questions that I wanted to answer…

So for science, I removed the Facebook app from my phone. The only way for me to access Facebook would be through the web browser, and even then, I would try to limit my consumption. I consciously retained the Messenger app on my phone because I still wanted to be able to respond to Facebook chat conversations.

Two weeks into this experiment, I made the following observations…

  • I’m spending less overall time on my phone, which I am quite pleased about.
  • I am focusing more on my physical surroundings. For example, I can eat breakfast peacefully, engage 100% in conversations, and stay completely focused at work.
  • I am more productive. In fact, I used my ‘Facebook time’ to write this blog!

I admit I experienced some withdrawal effects. The first week, I kept automatically opening the ‘Social’ folder on my phone, only to find bitter disappointment instead of my once favourite app. The second week, however, I purposely turned to other apps like LinkedIn, Pocket, and Medium. These apps inherently are more productive, and I feel fantastic knowing that I am using my time wisely.

As for Facebook…well, I’m still checking it, but only through my web browser and for fewer and briefer visits. I realized that I don’t miss out on anything by spending significantly less time there.

Overall, I’m quite satisfied with the results of my two-week experiment. It’s helped me meet two important goals: decreasing my overall phone usage and spending my time more productively. I will be continuing this experiment until it ceases to be an experiment — and becomes a lifestyle.

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Go ahead… try removing an app from your phone that you don’t think you could live without. See how it goes and share the story!

EDIT: Nguyen Duc Hoan translated this post into Vietnamese here. If you can read Viet, check it out!

EDIT 2: Adam Łukasiak translated this post into Polish here. If you can read Polish, check it out!

EDIT 3: Onur Karapinar translated this post into French here. If you can read French, check it out!