Facebook, the biggest time drain ever invented, steals so much time from us that when confronted with the amount of time spent, the average users are baffled, asking themselves what they did for all that time.
A while ago, Time Magazine published this calculator to show how much time you spend on Facebook, and I dare you to try it! You won’t like the results. I didn’t.
The average user spends more than 20 minutes each time they visit. You might argue that 20 minutes per visit is not a lot, but if you’re visiting Facebook 2-3 times per day, it adds up.
I love Facebook, I really do. But when confronted with the numbers, I had a choice to make — either I control my time there or I leave it altogether.
Being addicted (like most people), I tried to avoid spending so much time on the website, so I researched various tools and methods. Some were great, but I found that if I didn’t have a system in place, none of them could help me get back my time. Facebook is an Omni-media-channel, fighting my will to resist it on several fronts.
To deal with such an onslaught, I had to develop a layered strategy that includes tools and habits, all combined to help me win back my time.
Since I’ve begun, I’ve found that building a routine that includes scheduled, moderate Facebook use in controlled environments allows me to fully enjoy the time I spend on the site. I don’t have remorse and I don’t feel that Facebook is a time drain anymore. I now think about it as a recreational one-stop shop.
Here’s how I stay productive while using Facebook.
1. Ghost for Chat
One of the major time wasters on Facebook is Facebook Chat. When I log onto Facebook, I don’t always want to talk or to be seen. Sometimes, I’m just there to do a specific task, like read an interesting article from my customized feed (more about that later) or answer a specific message. I don’t always want to get sucked in with other messages.
This chrome app allows me to talk to whomever I’d like without being seen on the chat window and without having that “last seen” time stamp. After ending the chat, I close Facebook and dive back into my work.
2. Stay Focused
I’m not pro blocking apps. While blocking has an important role in preventing access to those websites that waste our time, it also has a huge role to play in causing our fall from the productivity bandwagon.
This app figured out that cold turkey is not the way to go. It allows you to set a limit for the amount of time you’re going to use Facebook in advance, allowing you to control the impulse of visiting it outside of those hours.
3. Kill News Feed
Some days, you have to stay off Facebook for productivity’s sake — this app is just for that. It ensures that you won’t be able to view the newsfeed by blocking it — a good reminder that you need to get back to work!
4. Schedule your Visits
You need to get into the habit of creating a daily schedule, and you need to commit to that schedule. Building recreational Facebook visits into your schedule will make sure that you’ll know when you need to be there, and this will allow you to enjoy it more.
A word of advice: while at work, schedule one visit tops. It takes on average 23.15 minutes to get back on track once you’ve interrupted your workflow.
5. Commit with a Friend
Yes, it’s a bit big brotherish, but it’s effective nevertheless. The guy who got slapped by someone from Craigslist to get back to work proved that.
When you schedule with someone and message them when you log in and out of Facebook, you’re helping yourself to commit by involving another person. This technique is highly effective when you begin, and I’m still using it today.
This tip goes well with the Ghost for Chat app, as no one else will bother you.
6. Create Dedicated Newsfeeds
Facebook changed its algorithm so you’ll see things that (according to Facebook) you’re more interested in. The problem is that almost everyone sees news and interactions of friends that they interact with on the newsfeed as a result.
By creating a dedicated newsfeed or list, you’re blocking out all the noise and focusing only on what’s relevant for you.
To see only the friends or pages you’re interested in, go to News Feed on the right corner bar > Edit preferences > Prioritize who to see first or use the Facebook friends organizer tool.
You can also create several lists with Facebook’s list tool.
When I’m on Facebook, depending on my needs, I activate the tools. The habits are a different thing. To make these habits work for you, you’ll need first to commit and spend less time on Facebook.
This commitment will make sure that you have the mindset required to make this change. It might be difficult to kick start these new habits because you’ve been using Facebook for so long and old habits die hard. But it’s possible, and you should at the very least try.
If you’re planning your daily schedule on a regular basis, which I highly recommend, this kind of commitment will fit your schedule like a glove. Good luck!
Featured photo credit: Thomas Lefebvre via images.unsplash.com