Goals Habits

100 Days Left

September 23, 2020

There are 100 days left in 2020.

A year that teased us with promises of a bright and exciting future, and then smacked us into reality.

A year in which I kept switching planners, hoping each one would bring peace and calm to the chaos.

A year in which many of us spent time numbing our emotions both big and small.

My GOD, what a weird year. I’ve wished time away more times than I want to admit. Days until school start. Days until the case counts go down. Days until everyone can feel normal again.

And yet I’ve also been so lucky, with truly minimal personal impact. I still have a (very good) job. We are still saving for retirement +kids’ college + the future. Most importantly, my family and close friends have remained healthy.

I feel comfortable going places now, for the most part. I would not want to eat in an indoor restaurant and get jarred when I see someone not masking (ahem Tire place manager . . . seriously!?). But I don’t mind going to work, or the hospital. I do enjoy my newfound flexibility of working from home on most non-clinical days and hope this option remains in place even in post-pandemic times.

posted unironically on instagram

100 days left.

I want to spent the rest of this year with my eyes open, and I want to leave the numbing behind to the extent possible. In order to do this, I have decided to make my goal for these 100 days to leave my Instagram use largely behind.

I am setting the following rules for myself:

✅ I will go onto Insta to post podcast content weekly on Monday mornings (BLP) and Tuesday mornings (BOBW).

✅ I will allow myself up to 10 minutes of Insta between the hours of 11:30a – 1p on other weekdays (to respond to comments, if I get any!)

✅ I will not be checking Insta on weekends (and will uninstall the app on my phone every Friday & reinstall Monday to help prevent the temptation)

✅ I will dock my phone when I arrive home from work

✅ I will aim to average under 100 minutes of screen time daily (and try not to attend meetings using my phone)

I know this seems like a small thing. But I know my phone use (and social media use in particular) is producing more anxiety than it is alleviating, creating more problems than it is solving. When 2021 rolls around, I hope that I have some better habits to equip me for the next year.

Anyone is welcome to join me.


  • Reply Grateful Kae September 23, 2020 at 7:27 am

    I hear you on 2020 having teased us. This was the first year that I REALLY organized goals and plans for the year, more than I ever had before. I felt so great about it all. I distinctly remember telling my husband, around like January 20th or so, “This new year is just going so well so far. I feel really good. I can just tell this is gonna be a great year!”…. uhhhh…… yeah, no. 🙂

    Re: screen time…For the past 12 days (and counting) I have been setting my FB/IG app total time limit (between both) to under 40 minutes per day and being absolutely resolute in respecting it when that limit pops up blocking me. I know 39 minutes sounds like a lot still, but it feels like a comfortable amount that allows SOME mindless scrolling time in 1-2 bigger chunks if I want, or some shorter checks. But when it’s gone, it’s gone! I do browse FB too so between the two it feels fair. I may decrease it to 30 minutes or 20 eventually but I wanted to start realistically. Some days it’s gone by 3 pm and then I just know I won’t be touching it until the next morning. Not having unlimited access to it has helped me very much while still enjoying the parts of it that I like. I do enjoy exploring new content, ideas and finding inspiration/books/podcasts to check out there so I don’t like the idea of completely doing away with it either.

  • Reply CBS September 23, 2020 at 8:20 am

    I am trying to cut screentime as well and have set my total phone usage to 30 minutes, which I regularly go over but I’m getting lower. I took twitter off my phone, so it’s instagram, whatsapp, and discord for my online mom’s group. One thing I’ve found helpful is to leave a book/kindle or magazine (New Yorker and gardening magazines) wherever I tend to sit (right next to my bed, in my son’s room, and and on the couch) and I’m much more likely to pick up something to read rather than doom scroll.

    I think your walking / phone meeting is genius though, wish we didn’t have a camera on norm.

  • Reply Ali September 23, 2020 at 8:22 am

    I never got around to using Instagram, but was an old person who used Facebook (far too much). I actually uninstalled mine a few weeks ago—between feeling constantly despairing about humanity, disappointed in people I know, and being sick of having things I don’t need sold to me, I was OVER it. It’s amazing to me that it didn’t require any sort of adjustment and I pretty much immediately broke the habit. To me, I wouldn’t want my kids to ingest the garbage I was seeing daily, yet I was willingly doing it myself. Well, count me out!

    Hope you find Instagram-less life as clarifying and freeing as this has been for me.

  • Reply KGC September 23, 2020 at 8:42 am

    I deactivated facebook last night in a fit of mania after realizing I’d spent 40 minutes mindlessly stress-scrolling (instead of sleeping) after a frustrating conversation with my husband about my career (how much do I want a faculty position??? I’m actually not sure…which is weird to say as a type A overachiever…). My running group is 100% facebook based, though most of the plans are now made through messenger since it’s usually 2-3 people instead of big groups, so I figure I can still access that. Instagram doesn’t seem to be as much of a time-suck for me and I genuinely enjoy the few accounts that I follow.

    I think your rules are great and I absolutely understand the want (need?) to set stringent guidelines and goals. I hope it works for you and you are happier/less stressed about it as a result!!!

    Also, you say “I know this seems like a small thing.” I don’t think you need to qualify. Anyone who has read here long enough knows that your conflicted feelings about screen time and instagram are not small TO YOU! It’s fine for all of us to have different ‘things’ that we get hung up on – and this is yours =) Good luck!!!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns September 23, 2020 at 10:32 am

    I need to make my IG/FB limits more strict as well. So this is inspiring me to do that. I also wants to read the book Digital Minimalism at some point – maybe in 2021. I haven’t read much non-fiction this year and the non-fiction books I’ve read have mostly been related to race since I’m really working on being an ally/advocate. But I want to be mindful about screen time, especially now that little eyes are watching me! I do have a hard time not being on my phone at all around my son because that’s how I take pictures of him. But it’s something I need to work on.

    Yay for there being 100 days of the year left. I’m not trying to wish away time, but this has been a hard year so I won’t be sad to see it go! Granted, it’s been much much much less hard for me than many others, so I am lucky. But overall, I just won’t be sad when it comes to an end. Although we will hopefully end the year on a happy note with the birth of a healthy baby in early December!

  • Reply Jessica September 23, 2020 at 11:09 am

    Looking for something fun / significant has been the best way for me to cope with these times as well! To you or any other readers, I would highly recommend Vote Fwd. It allows me to channel my election stress into something productive (writing letters that are statistically shown to help get out the vote!), and is super easy to do, so it gives me something better to do when I would otherwise end up doomscrolling. And it makes me feel better that at least I’m doing something small to help.

    Also I think I mentioned this before, but setting an app timer for something you want to be able to access but for limited periods of time is super helpful! My phone takes me off the app when I reach my scrolling limit for the day 🙂

  • Reply MJ September 23, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    Hi SHU, first-time commenter and long-time reader/listener here! I listened to Cal Newport’s latest podcast this morning and learned that he is coming out with a planner — of course, I thought of you. Based on a little research, seems like this might be it? https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/647239/the-time-block-planner-by-cal-newport/

    This might have already been on your radar, but I thought it would be worth noting on the off-chance that it was news to you, too!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 23, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      I’m trying to get him on the show to talk about it 🙂

      • Reply MJ September 23, 2020 at 11:02 pm

        Excellent, fingers crossed! I am biased, of course, but do think he’d be well-served by being a BLP guest.

  • Reply Lani Inlander September 23, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    This is actually pretty much how much time I devote to Instagram now. As a small business owner, blogger, and mini/micro “influencer”, I am constantly told that I need to be doing more more more on social media. But as a super sensitive introvert, I know myself better. I may be hurting the growth of my business (a book agents first question is how many instagram followers you have!), but I am protecting my mental health. I am running a marathon, not a sprint.
    On an unrelated note, would these tees be helpful for your kids who are back to school? https://safe-tee.com/products/kids-safetee

  • Reply Loi M September 23, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    I deleted Instagram and Twitter in a fit of pique… about 3 weeks ago. Fully thinking I’d reinstall them… but I haven’t. And weirdly i haven’t missed them. Never did sign up to Facebook so don’t know what I’m missing. Next steps – call forwarding to dumb phone when I’m working non clinically (another doctor, uk based). And I like the ‘phone docking’ at home idea. Somewhere uncomfortable! Where are you putting yours Sarah?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 23, 2020 at 5:06 pm

      Great question! Probably in kitchen but true may not be remote enough!

  • Reply Dawn Burke September 23, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    I am currently listening to Digital Minimalism on audible. Really fascinating research! I cannot find a balance with the digital/leisure time–I like his thoughts about scheduling and practicing it though 🙂 I don’t spend a crazy amount of time on either but I love IG for the pages I do follow. I’ve been very selective and only follow positive thinkers. FB is a different beast–I really like it for all the professional pages–especially for higher ed teaching right now (I teach at our university) however it just goes on and on. I need to put a timer on it. I have been letting myself get on FB 15-20 minutes before I HAVE to leave the house or do something specific so I have to get off but I hate the pull of it–even taking the app off my phone, I can pull it up on safari. I need a way to block it completely. Anyway, just ranting at this point but I love how you put specific steps in place to limit your time. I think I will try that 🙂

  • Reply Megan RB September 23, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    I recently unfollowed everyone and everything except people I know personally. I can always search for hash tags or accounts and look at them one by one without following. It’s made a huge difference in the draw (much reduced) and the time spent (I reach the end of my feed in a handful of minutes). I also like your idea that Instagram should have different streams or feeds. The friction of searching for an account, celebrity or whatever is enough to really cut down time and attention spent.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 24, 2020 at 5:34 am

      I did that, but admittedly was not great at sticking to it. And YES so true you can always search for things! It’s not going away just b/c it isn’t in your feed! Then YOU rather than the insta algorithm get to decide what you look at.

  • Reply Coco September 24, 2020 at 1:30 am

    I’ve uninstalled inst and FB from my phone for a month and honestly didn’t miss it as much as I thought. If I want to check something, i just go to it in the computer, which most of the days I don’t.
    it is truly less stressful and helps with deep work.

  • Reply Lani Inlander September 24, 2020 at 6:39 am

    What a great idea to go through and reevaluate who you are following. So many of us have had Instagram for years and our feed has built up into this unmanageable monster. We should take some time to manage it! You can also put people on Mute if you don’t want to hurt their feelings but don’t need to see 5 pics of their kids every day.

  • Reply Jara C. October 1, 2020 at 10:19 am

    This is such a good idea! My screen time has been appalling, especially recently. I’ve tried tracking it in my planner to see if coming face-to-face with the numbers daily would allow me to be more cognizant of my usage, but instead it’s just made me sad almost every day when I realize how much time I waste. Perhaps setting a concrete goal for Q4 of under x minutes per day of unproductive screen time would allow me to be more realistic and actually conquer this bad habit.

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