If this sounds familiar, you might be addicted to Facebook. Maybe you’ve already realized that, and you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to spend a lot less time there (and on other social media). And you will. Stating tomorrow.
It’s too late today because you’ve already checked your newsfeed, and we all know that once you do that, it’s all over. You’ve just lost touch with the world around you and time has become a forgotten phenomena.
You have to do better tomorrow because those humorous graphics like the one above that your friends are posting all over Facebook are beginning to hit too close to home. You’re pretty sure your friends and family are actually ganging up on you. If something doesn’t change soon, they might stage a full-blown intervention.
You need a plan and you need one now.
You need a plan that matches your productivity style. I believe in developing strengths instead of focusing on overcoming weaknesses. I also believe in making the best of who I am, instead of trying to make myself into something else. That sounds pretty serious for an article on social media, but it really does make a difference. You’ve probably heard and tried the advice to never open e-mail or social media sites until you’ve gotten all of your important work done for the day. First of all, that doesn’t help much if your reason for using social media is for your work. Second, if you’re a global thinker, like me, the advice to get everything else done first just isn’t going to work for you.
“What’s a global thinker?” you ask…
In part, that means I need to see the “big picture” before I can be bothered with details. (And then I still might not care about the details.) For example, when I read a magazine, I thumb through the whole thing before I settle in and read any one article. When I watch a movie I need at least a two sentence synopsis of what I’m about to watch. I like to see the forest before I can begin to focus on any given tree. If that’s you, you’re probably a global thinker too.
Because I know I’m a global thinker, I’ve given myself permission to check e-mail and social media before doing much else. (I do read my Bible and a chapter of whatever book I’m reading before starting my computer.) It kind of makes me feel like I’ve “touched base” with the world, now I can get busy with the details of my day.
Here’s how I work with my productivity style in my quest to spend less time on social media.
- I admit that I’m just not going to do everything else first.
- I put “social media check-in” on my list of morning “to do”s (This includes e-mail.)
- I have a system that gets me in and out in just a few minutes. Want to know what it is?
For this article I’m only talking about Facebook. The concept is pretty much the same for email and whatever social sites you’re using.
Step one: Check for messages
When someone sends me a message, I want to respond as soon as I possibly can, so this is where I begin. If I see that I have messages, I read them and respond, but only if the response will take less than one minute. (You’d be surprised how much you can write in one minute.) If I can’t respond that quickly I leave it for later. I have a specific time when I go back and follow-up on everything that needs it later in the day. Yes, I’ll tell you about that… later.
Step two: Check notifications
You know, the list where you see who has “liked” a post, or commented, or tagged you, etc. Most of these notices don’t need any kind of follow-up. If they do, it’s usually quick so I take care of it right then. If it’s something I need to do that will take more than one minute it goes on the “later” list along with any messages I couldn’t respond to right now.
Step three: Check notifications in my groups and other pages that I own
Usually the first trip through my overall notifications takes care of most of the groups. But if there are still some, I do the same thing. Scan them and respond to the ones I can get to in less than one minute.
Step four: The newsfeed
Now comes the part that could pull me into a time warp. This is where self discipline comes into play. This is where you need to tell a loved one “If I don’t come out soon, come in and get me.”
I scan my newsfeed in about 5 -10 minutes in the morning, then I do quick checks that take no more than 5 minutes, 2-3 times throughout the day. When I do the quick checks throughout the day that’s when I also keep up with current notifications.
How do I scan my newsfeed so fast without getting bogged down? It’s not that hard for me because I’m totally not into trivia, I skip all the posts about sports, and I’m very good at skipping things that aren’t relevant to me. But I know you need more guidance than that. So, I’ve put together a few pointers.
- Before commenting on a status in your newsfeed, especially when that comment could be opening up a long discussion, ask yourself “ Why do I want to jump into this conversation? “
- Is it important that I share my knowledge, support, or opinion?
- Am I just bored and enjoy the interaction?
- Do I just need to have my 2 cents in every conversation?
- Who will be blessed if I take the time to comment?
- Remember that every post you either like or comment on is now going to show up in your newsfeed every time someone else interacts with that post. Use that “unfollow post” button.
- Remember that a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. When you post a controversial comment and find yourself in a “discussion”, don’t be fooled into thinking that you are influencing your opponent. Very likely they are just arguing with you and this is a huge waste of your time. Let it go, and go be influential in a place where you’ll make a difference.
- You don’t have to read every post on your newsfeed.
- Remember, when someone you don’t know very well posts pictures of their family picnic, they probably didn’t post them for you. They posted them for out-of-town family. You are not being rude if you do not click through all of them and even leave a lovely comment.
- Picture Facebook as a large party. You can’t possibly hear every conversation. If you tried, people would think you’re crazy, or at least rude. You need to work your way around the room, jumping in on the conversations that grab your attention and skipping the others. It’s not rude to not read someone’s post.
- Obviously, if there is someone who consistently posts content that either drives you nuts or bores you to tears, you might want to hide their status.
- When someone posts an article I might want to read, I open it in a new tab and move on. I come back later, when I have time, and read it. (Once I’ve looked it over and decided I still want to read it.)
Step five: Later
At some point in my day, usually lunch, I take the time to go back through the things I saved for “later”. It depends on what it is. If I need to respond to a message for business, I do that during “work” time. If it’s an article to read, I read while I eat. If it’s something that just interests me, maybe I’ll read it later while the family is watching TV or something like that. I find that by working those things in when they fit best, I don’t get bogged down and end up on Facebook for hours at a time. It also helps me keep my focus on my intended morning routine, instead of letting Facebook determine what rabbits I’m going to chase.
Step never: Play a game
Okay, if you actually enjoy those Facebook games and playing one now and then truly refreshes your spirit and gives you the strength to get back at it, then by all means, play the game. Somehow I doubt that’s the case for most people. When you find yourself firing up a Facebook game, ask yourself “Am I really enjoying this game? Or am I too lazy to go do something of value?” Something of value does not have to be work, it just has to be worth your time. There is a huge difference between down time and wasting time. I have a rule for my down time. If I’m not working then I’m doing something that I truly enjoy, or that rejuvenates me. If I feel crappy at the end of my rest time, I haven’t rested, I’ve wasted time. So, just something to consider next time you feel like hanging out on Facebook; Do you feel energized by that activity?
Well, that’s all I can think of for now. If you’ve got some “get off Facebook” strategies, I’d love to hear them, tell us about it in the comments below.
Enjoy you day!