Finally, I have finished all my end-of-year exams in university. What a tough month it has been! It was stressful to put in order all the notes, complete all the readings and research, and to finalise my assignments.
It wouldn’t have been that bad if I didn’t have to fight against temptations. By temptations, I mean everything that has to do with the Internet. The biggest temptation, though? Facebook.
A couple of months ago, I realised how my daily browsing on that website was taking a big chunk out of my free time. Worse than that, a lot of what I was seeing on my feed wasn’t really what I was interested in. Moreover, I also became aware of the attitude of ‘friends’ on Facebook. I realised that some particular users are just too obsessed with checking their feed, liking items and oversharing information.
And so, precisely on the 24th of April, I went on Facebook with the intention of fixing this ‘problem’. Two months later, I am here to outline the process that I undertook and its success.
Mind you, this is not an anti-Facebook post. I still love social media, I still think Facebook is the best platform so far and I still think it can be useful. But I – and perhaps all of us – need to regulate our usage of such a website, to stop it from ruling our life and hindering our productivity.
Go ahead, read about my plan to wean myself off Facebook and think about whether you need to do something similar.
How I Stopped Wasting Time on Facebook in 5 Simple Steps
1. I unfollowed some people without the guilt of unfriending them.
I’m the kind of person who doesn’t mind accepting friend requests from ex-classmates, workmates or distant relatives, even if they never talked to me in real life. I do it because I think “Hey, at least we have had some kind of connection IRL, so it makes sense.”
Too bad that they are the ones who tend to like and share uninteresting or clickbait items. But the thing that I hate most? When they like public posts and profile pictures (which are public). That is what doubles up the number of items on my news feed.
Since I cannot prevent those from coming up on my feed, I decided to unfollow a big number of users on my list: that is, the aforementioned ex-classmates, ex-workmates and relatives. Others would be more drastic and unfriend them straight away, but I don’t mind them on my list since I actually know these people in real life. When – and if – I need to check what they’re up to, I can visit their profiles individually when I have time.
2. I unfollowed Pages, opting to follow particular websites/blogs through their RSS feeds.
The only reason I have always given for using Facebook so frequently was that I need to be informed about what’s happening around me. I soon had to admit to myself though that there are other ways to keep myself updated.
So the next thing I did was to go through my (super-duper long) list of liked Pages, to find out which news sites and blogs I tend to follow closely. Such Pages share interesting articles (which inspire me to compile my Weekender’s posts) almost on an hourly basis.
I unfollowed these Pages and made sure to add their RSS on my feed reader. I use Feedly, which I highly recommend. On there, I have all the news sites and blogs collected and categorised by genre.
3. I cleaned my Likes from defunct or useless Pages.
I had already rambled, some time ago, on what I really think about Facebook likes. Clicking Like on something which you think is funny/interesting is way too easy. The risk is ending up with hundreds of Pages ‘spamming’ your feed, many of which do not seem funny/interesting anymore after a while.
Therefore, I sifted through my Likes, and I unliked those Pages which were not being updated anymore and those who did not seem amusing or useful anymore. Those which could still be remotely useful (such as Pages of local shops or brands), I left them on my list but unfollowed them. This step, along with step #2, left me with just a handful of particular celebrity, comic, meme, event and animal Pages on my feed – the ones I enjoy reading the most.
4. I turned off the Chat for some people.
To be honest, I have been doing this for a long time. It’s ok to add people who I barely know, but I don’t want them to annoy me on Chat.
What I have always done with my friend list is to divide it into categories through the list option given by Facebook. Some lists are set for you, such as Family, Close Friends, as well as lists for your high school, college, work and location, if you have included such info in your profile. What I also did was to create a list called Chat. Then, I adjusted the privacy settings on Facebook’s Messenger system by allowing only the users on the Chat list to view my online status; to the rest, I appear as offline.
By categorising your friends in such lists, you can also facilitate your browsing. For example, do you feel like checking what’s up with your family members? Just click on the Family bookmark and that’s it!
5. I started to go offline more often on my smartphone.
The final hurdles are the notifications of the smartphone. The most annoying thing I had to suffer while studying was to receive Facebook or Messenger notifications whenever I forgot my Wi-Fi on. One way of tackling it would be to disable all kinds of notifications, but I personally don’t want to do it. For particular things, such as group messages from my classmates, I need the notifications to remain on.
What I did, however, was simply to turn off the Wi-Fi when I did not need the Internet. I only turned it on during my breaks and in the evening. It was bliss, I tell you.
What happened after that?
1. My browsing time on Facebook decreased considerably.
Before, I used to waste one hour or even more to browse my Facebook feed in the evening (excluding the random short moments of browsing on campus). Now? It takes me from just 5 minutes to 20 minutes tops and every item that I see is fun or of some use!
2. My browsing time on Feedly naturally increased but became more focused.
When I am unable to check my Feedly during the day, I might end up with more than 700 unread items. That’s crazy, I know, but it is much easier to have everything collected in one place.
By keeping the application in Magazine format, I find it easy to skim through the headlines quickly, to choose the ones I want to read or to save them for later. Most importantly, there are no annoying personal posts from friends in between and I don’t risk missing an important news item, as I often did on Facebook.
3. Now I only browse Facebook twice a day.
All this process would be almost useless if I kept visiting Facebook every few minutes like I used to do before. It would be really pointless to do so since my feed takes longer to update. Therefore I decided to be strict about the number of times I visit the website. One time in the morning after waking up (if I have time) and at least one time in the evening to wind down. This way, my Facebook browsing has become much more meaningful.
Do you think you’re too addicted to Facebook? Ask yourself these questions.
a. Am I spending an excessive number of minutes/hours per day on Facebook?
b. Am I browsing Facebook while I am supposed to be doing something else (work, study, paying attention in class, etc.)?
c. Are there better, more useful things that I could do during all those minutes/hours per day wasted on Facebook?
If you have answered yes to the above, then I suggest that you take action, like I did. You can imitate the steps that I took or else come up with new solutions. The most important thing to keep in mind is productivity: how productive is your time on Facebook and how more productive can you be if you stay away from it during the day?
Tech Tip: Develop a good habit in a fun way with Habitica.
One final recommendation, in case you find it too hard to let go off Facebook, is Habitica. Matt suggested it to me (and I thank him for helping me a lot with being more calm and productive during this stressful month). With this app, you can list the good habits that you want to develop in order to defeat your current bad habits. You can also list daily tasks and particular to-dos.
What I did was to add this as a habit: No Facebook during the day – only once when waking up and once in the evening, possibly after 8pm. At the end of the day, I click the Positive button and, in case I fail, I will have to click the Negative and lose points.
By ticking off such habits and tasks, you are keeping alive your avatar (which can be a warrior, a healer, a mage or a rogue), you are earning gold for purchasing armour, and you are finding pets that you can raise as mounts. By inviting your friends, you can also form a party and go on quests. It’s really fun and at the same time, you are teaching yourself to be more responsible and productive day by day!
READ: 8 Ways to Enjoy Building Good Habits with Habitica (Scrabbled Rambles)
I hope this has been useful for you. If you’re going to try out something similar, good luck and let me know about it!