Edited on September 25, 2016 to add a third tool
I bet that right now you’re thinking if people have liked, hearted, favorited, or retweeted your latest post. Will they think I’m pretty, or smart, or kind, or insert some other characteristic you wish for yourself here? I’m sure you’ve felt that pull. But you also feel that it’s stopping you from achieving your goals. You become dependent on the feeling of recognition and importance that come from people appreciating what you post. And it disgusts you. You want to stop. The problem is that it has become automatic. Anytime you wish to access some recognition you open that tab or browser or app and go to Facebook. Instant. The pull of it has become so strong but you don’t want to admit it.
I know. I am that way too. One moment I am doing something, attempting to write, or reading, then I look at my notifications. Next thing I know I’m lost browsing through the feed to look at what everyone’s updating. Yes, I’m hooked too. I’m hooked on the rush of dopamine as I see my posts being liked, being shared, being commented on. But during those times that I step back and look at my actions, I feel a pain at the pit of stomach. The pain that tells me I’m wasting my life, my hours, not achieving anything significant. In my pursuit of personal and professional goals, I’ve realized that Facebook is hindering me from spending the time necessary to become good in the crafts I care about: writing and designing software.
Let’s face it. You’ve been spending so much time on Facebook. It’s time to stop. Here’s how I’m doing it.
Since Chrome is my main browser, I use an extension StayFocusd to control the time I spend in Facebook everyday. 10 minutes is my current maximum per day. I might increase it later as it feels too short but I’m trying to live with it for now.
It isn’t full-proof. For example, I can still open Firefox or Internet Explorer and browse from there or use my mobile device. But since I usually work on my desktop PC or Macbook that’s usually enough for me to stop and think why I want to open Facebook in the first place. After having had some time to think through it, I am usually more resistant to the pull than if I had instant access. You may need more controls, but for me this is enough for now.
Sometimes, I find interesting things I want to share with other people, like articles or videos. To be able to share them to my social media accounts without the risk of getting distracted, I’ve started using Buffer to post to Facebook and Twitter without my having to sign in and see the feeds from those platforms. In fact, I’m using Buffer to post this right now.
Though I’m trying to stay away from Facebook, many people use it as a way to connect. For example, when I recently did guest lecture sessions at UP Diliman’s Computer Science Department about Effective User Interface Design, the class instructor initially contacted me by Facebook. So if you still want to send and receive messages in Facebook while avoiding distraction, you can use a third party messenger like Pidgin and connect it to your Facebook account using its Facebook plugin.
These are the two tools I use to institute some controls on my personal Facebook usage. What are your tools and strategies? Does this help? Share it with your friends!