20 Things to Do Right Now Instead of Scrolling Instagram

Because even the guy who invented the infinite scroll wants you to stop

Louise Lumia
4 min readOct 2, 2020
Image via https://www.pexels.com/@cottonbro

Like many people, I recently watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix. Regardless of what you feel the film got right or wrong about the perils of social media, the truth is the infinite scroll can be problematic, even for those of us who don’t struggle with tech addiction and feel okay about our screen time.

So what’s the problem then?

Scrolling endlessly during our free time takes away the little, seemingly insignificant moments in the day that aren’t really insignificant at all.

The moments that allow us to have random thoughts that turn into incredible ideas. The moments that allow us to engage in creative problem-solving. The moments where undercurrent thoughts bubble to the surface and become life-changing decisions.

Then there’s the productivity piece of it. At the risk of sounding too preachy, the months I spent off Instagram were some of the most productive writing months of my life — there’s no denying it.

This productivity wasn’t because of all the extra time I had now that I was off social media (although that was part of it). My increase in writing was because the time I normally spent on Instagram was going toward, well, thinking. It was in those moments I would come up with new article ideas, even if I had to sift through boredom to eventually get there.

Your attention is a precious commodity, and social media apps are taking it away from you, even when it’s your “choice” to be on those platforms. It’s unrealistic for all of us to walk away (I didn’t stay off Instagram forever), but being cognizant of your screen time may bring on the realization that you’re giving away more time and attention than you thought. Next time you go to pick up your phone, consider these alternatives:

  1. Pick out your next read

I have weeks where I read a lot and weeks where I don’t. The best way I’ve found to stay in a good reading flow is to have my next book picked out. Good Reads is perfect for keeping track of what’s next of deck.

2. Take 10 deep breaths

Tension builds up throughout the day, even if we’re too distracted to notice it. Take some deep breaths and relax your body.

3. Check in with a friend

Social media is like eating cotton candy when you’re starving. The sugar might taste good, but it won’t do anything for your hunger. If social connection is what you’re craving, texting or calling a friend is a genuinely fulfilling way to satisfy it.

4. Dance

(Like no one's watching).

5. Go Outside

(Weather permitting)

6. Stretch your neck

You’re probably working from home, you’re definitely working on a computer, and your neck is probably sore. Here are some stretches that will help.

7. Donate to an organization

8. Sign a petition

9. Learn

You know, that topic you tell yourself you get, but if someone asked you to explain it, you would be at a loss for words. Go Google it.

10. Check out a new news source

Always nice to get a fresh perspective.

11. Drink some water

We’re all a little dehydrated these days.

12. Add that movie/tv show to your Netflix list

So you don’t scroll for 20 minutes next time — your future self will thank you!

13. Do 10 Push-ups

I’m a fitness class go-er (or rather, I was a fitness class go-er). When the pandemic hit, it was very difficult for me to find the motivation to engage in movement of any kind. Eventually, I found little bursts of activity throughout the day — 10 pushups after this task, 15 sit-ups after that task — to keep me feeling healthy and motivated throughout the day.

14. Get something done you’ve been putting off for a while

Need more motivation? Think about how amazing you’ll feel when it’s finally done!

15. Read fiction

In a rut? Studies have shown that reading fiction can be a more powerful motivator than self-help books because they tap into emotion, which is a stronger behavior and mood changing force than logic.

16. Think about the last time you felt deeply relaxed

17. Think about the last time you were happily surprised

18. Write

No rules here, just write a stream of consciousness. It may surprise you how cathartic this is. Try to keep writing for at least 5 minutes. Enjoying it? You may want to check this out.

19. Pick an item (or two, or three) of clothing to donate

20. Check out more articles on Medium



Louise Lumia

Writer, Counselor-in-Training, Professional Binge Watcher of The Office, Coffee Enthusiast