Facebook is a highly useful social utility that has any number of applications and that helps to keep us connected to our friends and relatives so that we can keep up to date with what they’re doing and stay in touch where perhaps geography isn’t on our side.
That’s the idea anyway, and in principle it’s true – but unfortunately for many of us the reality of Facebook and its use is quite different. Instead of being a useful utility, it is instead a procrastinator’s nightmare, and instead of being used to keep in touch with friends it’s often used to spy on strangers.
If the first thing you do when you come home is to check your Facebook, and then you find yourself looking up the hot person you new at Uni, or refreshing your profile page several times to see if anyone’s messaged you then you are one of many people for whom Facebook does more harm than good and you probably could be a lot more productive with your time if it wasn’t for this useful social utility. Here we will look at some methods to help you cut down your Facebook addiction or even to quit all together.
Delete Your Account?
Before we look at the various ways to end your Facebook addiction, there is of course the option of simply ending your Facebook use entirely by deleting your account. Once you’ve lost all the photos and all your friends, groups and likes, then setting it all up again and starting from scratch doesn’t tend to feel that inviting and the constant temptation isn’t there. Before you delete your account, make sure to get the numbers and e-mails of anyone you would like to stay in touch with and to get a good mobile phone contract so that you can still message people from free. Then there’s nothing stopping you from cutting yourself loose…
The unfortunate fact though is that Facebook does have many uses, so though you might want to quit your addiction, you won’t necessarily want to be completely rid of Facebook in its entirety. That’s where the following methods come in…
Do a Cull
You probably have far too many people on your Facebook (that’s not a reflection of you, just that statistically most people do) and a lot of these people serve as unnecessary distractions when they’ve uploaded their holiday pictures or posted an amusing or interesting looking link. That’s what then leads you to spend hours browsing their pictures and reading their notes which is both a waste of time and quite frankly a bit creepy when you haven’t seen them in years.
So look through your list of Facebook contacts and for each one ask yourself the simple question ‘when was the last time I spoke to them in any form?’ – if the answer is over two years ago (and that’s being generous) then just delete the contact.
Make a Rule
Rules are hard to stick by – especially if you have an addiction – but they can help a lot in principle when it comes to moderating your behavior. The sort of rule that can help with your Facebook use is to just say for instance that you will only check Facebook once when you turn on your computer. Or to say that you will only use Facebook once you’ve done everything else (you have to turn off your computer after you’ve looked at Facebook). Alternatively you could say you can only use it once a day.
Use Your Phone
Another great rule when it comes to limiting your Facebook use is to only allow yourself to use Facebook on your phone. This is a great way to make Facebook a little less tempting as squinting at the small screen of your phone can be quite difficult. To make sure you do only check Facebook on your phone you can then install software to block your computer from looking at Facebook.
Use the Block
You should also use the Facebook block on any other computer that you shouldn’t be checking Facebook on. For instance that means blocking access at work, or at school, or on any computers you own that you use primarily for work.
If you want to message someone or speak to them about something then Facebook isn’t the only means of communication. While Facebook helps us to stay in contact with people who we aren’t on speaking terms with, it shouldn’t replace old fashioned phone calls. So instead of writing that Facebook message instead just pick up the phone – it will be quicker, less distracting and the person on the other end will appreciate it.
Turn Off Facebook Chat
What you have to understand about Facebook is that it is a business – that means that they want you to use their site a lot and they’ve designed all kinds of little tricks to keep you on there. One such method is Facebook chat which can be a huge distraction when you’re browsing the site only to find that someone you haven’t seen for years is chatting to you. You then get sucked into a conversation that you can’t get out of and any hopes of doing any work that day go out of the window. Turn off Facebook chat and you can circumvent that danger.
Turn Off Facebook Alerts
Here’s another good one – simply turn off your Facebook alerts. Facebook alerts e-mail you whenever someone writes on your wall, or whenever someone sends you a message, so if you turn off the alerts then you won’t know about this and won’t be tempted to look. This will make it easier to stick to the rules you have made and no one will think any less of you for waiting until the evening to message them back – in fact it will make you look more sociable and busy and they’ll probably think more of you.
Delete Your Applications
Facebook also has a number of applications and games such as ‘Farmville’ that are great for absorbing you and not letting go. Delete these and that’s one less draw you have on the site.
Only Have One Window/Tab Open
This is a good way to improve productivity in general – if you generally have about 15 tabs open at once then that’s 15 things that can distract you and it means that you can pretend to be working when actually you’re just waiting for things to happen on Facebook. If you only have one window open then you’ll have to choose between Facebook and work, and that will make it harder to justify looking at it. At the same time this will mean that when you see a link on Facebook and follow it away you’ll leave the site – and if you follow the one-view rule then you won’t be able to come back. Multitasking feels effective, but studies have demonstrated that we actually get more work done sticking to one thing at a time – so take away your ability to do so.