In the news this week there have been several articles about the Facebook and Instagram apps causing serious battery drain on both the iPhone and Android. But it gets worse…


Photo credit: Martin Abegglen (licence)

According to recent reports, running Facebook and/or Instagram on your phone causes your battery to drain at an alarming rate. Worse, this power loss occurs even if you’re not using the apps. However, it might be that Instagram and Facebook are causing even more damage, particularly to your Self-Improvement…

Poll results

At the end of last year, I sent a message to my entire subscriber base. I asked you what your Self-Improvement priorities would be for 2016.

As you will know from last week’s follow-up email, (if you’re not on the list, subscribe here now!) this quick survey indicated three main areas of concern:

  1. Weight loss
  2. Productivity
  3. Motivation

Let’s be clear: although I’m over 50 years old, I’m definitely not against Facebook or Instagram! In fact, I use them both. I think the innovation that goes into these products is amazing and they have the potential for enormous benefits, both personally and commercially. However, there is definitely a downside for anyone struggling with the three issues listed above:

Weight loss

Getting any kind of consensus on the healthiest and most efficient way to lose weight is very difficult. The diet industry is vast and there is a bewildering array of products and systems, all claiming to be the best. But the overwhelming majority of health professionals agree on two things: your weight is governed (at least in part) by a) the calories you take in via your food, and b) the calories you burn via your physical activity.

In other words: eat sensibly and exercise. (If only Self-Improvement was that easy…)

In reality, our low-energy leisure opportunities are expanding daily and many of them are phone-based:

  • We slow our walking pace to answer or check our phone.
  • We interrupt our workout to read a message or take another selfie.
  • We check our updates at the table as we eat on and on mindlessly.
  • We call someone on the other side of the shop (or even house!) rather than go to them.
  • We sit still and watch the next video…and the next…

I guess if we’re lucky, we might lose a little weight in our texting thumb?


Whether you’re finishing an essay, working on a presentation, knitting a sweater or building a boat, the job requires focus. Continuous, controlled periods of uninterrupted work will get the task finished every time. But what if you hear a phone notification? Do you ignore it? CAN you ignore it…?

Facebook and Instagram are designed to interrupt us. How else can they provide that sense of always-on, always-ready social connectedness that we enjoy? But this comes at a cost – and that cost might well be your productivity.

Of course, we like to tell ourselves that we can multi-task. Just keep working, while you chat on the phone. In truth, the concept of multi-tasking is a myth (and I’m not just talking about men.) What we call ‘multi-tasking’ is described by some psychologists as ‘rapid task switching’. Crucially, it has been clearly shown to significantly affect both the quantity and quality of our work. This is bad news if we’re serious about our Self-Improvement.

Proof-read a legal document and talk to mum on the phone at the same time? Good luck with that…


Amongst other factors, personal motivation requires

  • a positive mental attitude
  • a compassionate self-image
  • clear goals
  • ability to maintain focus

Of course, your phone can actually help with a lot of this. Motivational texts and images can help lift you out of unhelpful and negative thought patterns. Being in touch with loving friends and relatives can provide comfort or encouragement and help you feel better about yourself. Personal management apps can store your goals and rate your progress. You can set reminders to help you concentrate. Step counters or Fit-bit battles might keep you motivated to exercise.

But there’s a more sinister side to social networking, too.

Facebook and Instagram are amongst the most addictive sites on the internet. Some schools have reported reductions in grades across their students that they attribute directly to the use of social networking sites. Make no mistake: these apps will suck huge blocks of time out of your day if you let them.

Spending long periods viewing multiple Instagram photos on a small phone screen can lead to health issues like headaches and eye strain. You’re unlikely to be motivated if you feel unwell.

When using a social network, people often say things to you (or about you) that they wouldn’t say to your face. Sadly, using Facebook can leave you feeling disappointed, angry or depressed. These emotions are distracting and are not conducive to pressing ahead with your daily goals.

Will your next Instagram or Facebook session leave you feeling more motivated, or less? There are no guarantees.

Straight questions, honest answers

Be honest with yourself. Does using Facebook or Instagram sometimes…

  • cause you to move less?
  • make you eat less mindfully?
  • interrupt your working day?
  • make you want to check them more and more regularly?
  • leave you in a negative state of mind?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, perhaps you need to be concerned about draining more than just your phone battery.


Is social networking affecting your Self-Improvement? Do you have a helpful way of keeping your phone use to a minimum? Please write a comment below and share your experience.

To our continued Self-Improvement and success! 

 David Hendra
The Self-Improvement Guy