We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

live a better life

Challenge 1: Delete one app

Week two of Live A Better Life: Challenge yourself

#LIVE-A-BETTER-LIFE-banner-image-final (1)

IT’S WEEK TWO of our Live A Better Life series, and it’s all about challenging yourself.

To start off the week, we’re going to see if removing an app can have an effect on your behaviour on your phone.

Of course, there are reasons why deleting an app – especially a messaging or social media app – can be difficult.


Dr Larry Rosen, professor emeritus at California State University  author of The Distracted Mind: Ancient Minds in a High-Tech World, told that it’s normal to feel anxiety if you feel you’re missing out on something – like the content on an app – on your phone.

“If you are using the phone to gain pleasure then that causes your brain to produce pleasure chemicals including dopamine and serotonin which make you feel good,” he said. Just think of those ‘likes’ and ‘reactions’ that you get which make you feel temporarily good.

“If, however, you are using your phone because you feel you need to keep up with your virtual worlds then you are already producing chemicals that make you feel anxious (cortisol, adrenaline, etc) and you need to check in to remove those chemicals that make you feel anxiety.”

There’s also a phenomenon called ‘app fatigue’, which some tech writers have been examining. One journalist detailed how he deleted 165 apps from his iPhone (he’s a tech reviewer, hence the numbers):

But the point is to think hard about what you really need and use, especially if the app is lousy or outdated

Now, app fatigue isn’t quite a legitimate thing, but there’s no doubt having too many apps and too many ways of distracting yourself on your phone can be tiring.

That’s why today’s challenge is to delete one app you don’t want to use.

What sort of app could you delete?

  • One that you check too frequently
  • One that you check mindlessly, or with no purpose
  • An app that you have on your phone – and you’re not sure why
  • You want to see if you can ‘live without’ this app.

Real-life examples

I deleted the Facebook app on New Year’s Day after realising I was spending some of a holiday with friends scrolling mindlessly through it. I had already deleted Snapchat after starting to dislike how much time I wasted on it.

How has it changed things? Well, I do sometimes look at Facebook on the web on my phone, but I can go days without using it – rather than multiple times a day. I do check in on desktop (I don’t have Facebook Messenger). Do I feel like I’m missing out on anything? No.

However, the one issue I still have is that I still use Twitter a lot. Partly, that is because of work – so I can’t get rid of it – but my challenge is to use it less.

I asked some of my colleagues if they had deleted apps, and they told me:

I deleted Snapchat – it’s such a timesuck and it’s not content I miss. Easily can lose the guts of an hour staring into the minutiae of someone else’s life when I’m putting off doing something I need to do.

Deleted Facebook a while ago. It’s been great. Deleted Snapchat yesterday, too. It’s been great.

Facebook Messenger. I just read messages on desktop.

Most of my news apps – I find it way easier/better to stick to the couple that I use regularly, and leave the rest.

Tell us in the comments how you get on.

Read the full Live A Better Life series so far>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.