Using Instagram Productively: A How-To Guide

“How can I use Instagram productively?” was a question I often asked myself as productivity became a core priority in my life. A part of growing up I guess.

You can use Instagram productively by:

  1. Turning Instagram notifications off
  2. Tracking how often you use Instagram
  3. Setting up Screen Time on iPhone or download Google’s Digital Wellbeing app to limit Instagram access
  4. Limit access to Instagram by deleting the app and setting up stipulated timings to use Instagram

The measure(s) that you will want to take to use Instagram productively will depend on 2 main factors: your level of “addiction” and what you want to use Instagram for.

Deciding What Measures To Take To Use Instagram Productively

I used to constantly scroll through Instagram’s feed. Obsessive is the word you could use to describe my relationship with Instagram.

I knew it was time to make some changes when I knew it was time to go to bed but there I was, scrolling through my feed yet again.

This experience and more forced me to come to a realisation of my level of “addiction” with Instagram.

I had to reexamine my purpose of using Instagram and come up with measures to moderate my use so that I can use it productively.

Since taking actions on those measures, I’m glad that those changes have meant that I now use Instagram productively.

There is no shortcut to this, if we want to use Instagram productively, we must change our actions as far as how we use Instagram is concerned.

But what I can do is to help you:

  1. Identify your level of unnecessary use of Instagram
  2. Identify how you want using Instagram to benefit you

Identifying these 2 means you can easier decide the level of measures you want to take to start using Instagram more productively.

Level Of Unnecessary Use Of Instagram

Categorised into 3 levels, be honest and choose a level that rings most true for you.

Level of unnecessary usePossible Characteristics
High– Checking of Instagram more than once every half-hour.

– Using the app is causing you obvious detriment in your life. (ie. losing sleep, being late for an appointment)

– You feel a strong urge to constantly check the app fearing that you might miss something important if you don’t.
Medium– Checking of Instagram more than once every hour.

– Using the app is causing you to be distracted in tasks where you should be focused.

– You feel an urge to check the app fearing that you might miss an update from a friend if you don’t.
Optimal– Checking of Instagram around once every hour or less.

– The app is just a good to have, you generally don’t feel an urge to check the app often.

How You Want Your Using Of Instagram To Benefit You

In my opinion, there are 3 main ways we can use Instagram for our benefit.

Area of useHow one might use it
EntertainmentMostly comprises of scrolling through the Instagram feed to see what’s interesting.
Business/workSome may need to use Instagram because their business primarily runs on the platform.

Some may also work as a social media manager and requires Instagram directly in their line of work.
ConnectionPinging old friends that you haven’t seen in a while and seeing how they are doing well can be a joy.

We might have enjoyed some of these benefits once upon a time.

But over time, we might have become over-entertained, overworked and over-connected. We have become overstimulated.

Take for example connection – too much connecting with our friends can mean that we have forfeited our ability to focus on improving our own lives.

Now is a good time to take stock and decide how you want Instagram to benefit your life.

What Measures You Could Take

Here are some suggestions of measures you could take based on the amount of unnecessary use and awareness of how you want Instagram to add value in your life.

Level of unnecessary useSuggested measures
High– Limit access to Instagram by deleting the app and setting up stipulated timings to use Instagram

– Tracking how often you use Instagram
Medium– Setting up Screen Time on iPhone or download Google’s Digital Wellbeing app

– Tracking how often you use Instagram

– Turn Instagram notifications off
Optimal Turn Instagram notifications off

How To Limit Access To Instagram By Deleting The App And Setting Up Stipulated Timings To Use Instagram

Deleting Instagram will not be an easy choice for you, but you’re probably determined if you are reading up to this point.

Here’s what you will need for this to be effective:

  1. A sibling, parent, friend or spouse that can help set a password that will not be shared with you
  2. Screen Time to disable downloading of apps on iPhone


  1. Google Play to disable downloading of apps on an Android device

Here are the steps involved:

  1. Delete the Instagram app
  2. Disable the downloading of new apps through Screen Time on iPhone or Google Play with an Android device
  3. Have your partner set a password that won’t be shared with you under any circumstance
  4. Only download the app with the assistance of your partner during the stipulated timings when you allow yourself to use the app

Before You Set Up Screen Time/Digital Wellbeing

So you want to use Screen Time/Digital Wellbeing app to limit your usage of Instagram to certain timings in the day.

But before you proceed, just be aware that while Screen Time/Digital Wellbeing can limit your usage of apps to certain timings in the day, it doesn’t completely restrict your use of those apps.

All it takes is a few taps to ignore the limit and continue using any app being blocked.

So if you feel that you might require a more drastic change to your digital environment, deleting the app and then restricting app downloads with the help of a trusted friend might be more suitable for you.

Obstacles You May Face As You Try To Use Instagram Productively

Here are 2 main obstacles I’ve faced and the solutions I’ve implemented that has worked well.

You may face similar obstacles even as you try to use Instagram productively.

I’ve listed the first solution you could try from the top down. If the first solution doesn’t work, try the second or a combination of all of the solutions.

ObstaclesPossible solutions
You feel like you are using Instagram a lot and feel constantly distracted


You manage to wean off on Instagram but start to use other apps/websites as a substitute
Track whether you use Instagram on a weekly basis by using a physical journal or any note app on your phone. It will help if you can quantify this so you know how you fared by the end of the week.

Fill up your calendar with better, more intentional ways to use your time.

Use Screen Time/Digital Wellbeing app to limit the timings you can use Instagram.

Delete the new distracting app and limit your use of it only to certain days.

In all, making use of Instagram productively as a long-term solution will certainly mean you will fail along the way.

There are just some days where you will be more distracted than others.

But as long as you keep your intention set on using your digital devices productively, you will make progress on this.

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