Dopamine detox experiments

Dopamine detox experiment. A detailed, but abstract drawing of a laboratory with tech devices on the benches.

Our experiments so far

Here we list a series of experiments which are in line with our aim of transcending the forces that pull us away from our goals and are in line with our principles.

Remember these are all experiments. The best thing about an experiment is that it’s okay if it doesn’t work out. At least we tried and we learned.

9pm – 9am tech downtime to reduce usage


Worked fundamentally as a principle. It’s easy to break this, but it’s worth reflecting on why so that the necessary changes can be made with the aim that the downtime becomes a natural and welcome cadence.

Phone ‘Screen time’ to reduce usage


Not much help. It was too frictionless to remove the notification – only one button extra. If you have committed to the tech downtime principle, then that should be the aim.

Phone in a locked box to reduce usage


This might work for some, but it requires commitment to use. It’s very easy to just not put your phone into the box!

Regular check ins with a friend to keep going


It really helped us to have a regular check in. We did this at a lunch time call. We committed to only 15 minutes to keep it short. It usually went on a bit longer because there was a lot to talk about. Fifteen minutes should be a good aim to ensure it doesn’t become a chore.

Switching the position of popular apps on my phone to stop opening them automatically

Inconclusive but enlightening.

Worked for a short time. The habits easily update after a week or so. Again highlighted how much muscle memory is used to simply open an app without thinking!

Adding a rubber band to make scrolling a nuisance

Inconclusive but enlightening.

As a short exercise, it really help to highlight how often I scroll and how perfidious scrolling is! I lost the rubber band but it was an enlightening experiment.

Changing the lock screen and background to prompt intentionality


I chose a lockscreen to remind me of the intention and to actively catch myself. It was effective. Eventually, I changed it to a beautiful landscape photo after getting bored with it, but it did help me in the detox phase.

Turning off all notifications on the phone to reduce distraction


Very effective, but it still means that I check the phone, especially when I am expecting a message (usually after I had sent one: hence the principle: save it till we meet.)

Using an old browser to reduce rich engagement internet content


I needed the browser for work and creative pursuits and I quickly reverted to a new browser.

Writing by hand rather than digital device to stay creative without needing tech.


During the first detox, I found this frustrating. The second time round it was more enjoyable. I had a switch of mind but I don’t think it was related to the detox. I still create a lot on a digital device and the technology is incredible. Again, this goes back to intentionality.

No social media

Partial success.

Didn’t miss anything from the main social media platforms. Only used LinkedIn for professional purposes. When reusing Twitter, I noticed my anxiety rise with sensationalist headlines. Reducing the number of people I follow helped somewhat (max 20).

Grayscale screen > accessibility settings


Your phone really does feel less appealing in grayscale! Try it for a week. Then turn the colour back on and be prepared to be shocked by the artificial glow and alluring colour scheme. Digital tech companies use colour to draw you in. Some minor annoyances with taking photos on the phone and looking at food menus on delivery apps! Easy to turn off and on again!


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