Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Stop Wasting Time on Facebook and Join a Real Community

Recently, I shared about how Facebook can be a great tool for sharing content online. But the other side to that is it can also be an epic waste of time.

How to stop wasting time on Facebook

About a year ago, I started tracking how much time I was actually spending on Facebook and was amazed to discover it was a couple hours per day day. Shocked, I vowed to simplify my approach to social media, so that I could focus more on what mattered most to me while still staying connected with the people I care about.

As Betty White said, “I would never say that the people on there are losers, but that’s only because I’m polite.” If you find yourself feeling like one of those losers, here’s how you can stop:

  1. Don’t leave Facebook open. Check it a few times during the day (if your work allows) and once at night. When you’re done, close the window.
  2. Be intentional. When you’re checking Facebook, make sure that you have an intention for it. Sign in to post something or visit a friend’s page or share some photos. Then, get off.
  3. Turn of email notifications and “pushes.” Facebook notifies you every time someone posts a comment on your wall, sends you a message, or even comments on a discussion thread you’re a part of. Turn off as many as possible, if not all of them. (I let my wall posts and post comments go to my email, so that I can moderate them without having to log-in to Facebook)
  4. Use content-sharing apps without logging in. Most blogs and websites have a built-in Facebook “share” or “like” button, but you can also add a button to your browser. Other apps that will post your content for you are: NetworkedBlogs, RSS Graffiti, and Twitterfeed. If you like social bookmarking, Stumbleupon, Delicious, and Digg also allow you to send the articles you like directly to Facebook.
  5. Post photos to multiple sites at once. Facebook began as a photo-sharing site, and some people still actually use it to share images. If you find yourself spending a lot of time posting photos online, consider using a service like IFTTT, which allows you to post photos to multiple places with one easy upload.

If none of the above works, you may just have to quit Facebook.

Before you do, though, consider quitting Facebook without actually quitting it. And before you do that, consider this: Facebook may not be a waste of time at all for you. If it’s a distraction from work and real life, then by all means, get rid of it. But, and this is a big “but,” if you’re finding real community there don’t let it go.

Nowadays, there is no distinction between our “offline” and “online” lives. It’s possible to have legitimate, non-creepy relationships with people you’ve never met in-person through the web, which wasn’t true not so long ago. If you have those relationships, hold onto them. Just realize that some people may never understand, and that’s okay.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about and Facebook is just a nice place to read status updates and play games, then it’s time to go find some real community:

  • Go to the library.
  • Coordinate a local meetup.
  • Join a book club.

Do something to get off the computer and out of the house. Whatever you do, find a place to make a real connection. Life is too short to not make the most of our relationships.

Do you waste time on Facebook? How?

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • I took the month of January off from Facebook. It was the most productive month I’ve had in the recent past. The down side to my Facebook radio silence was the lack of upkeep for long distance friendships. I am, however, considering doing a friend list clean up. This may sound horrible… but now that I’m not raising support, I don’t necessarily want everyone in the world to get access to my status updates.

    • Wow!

      • brilliant.  People are longing for genuine community.  last month I tried an experiment; I made 24 ladies personal, handmade invitations to a get together I was throwing.   ALL 24 came.  In the past few years, I’ve used invites on facebook alone, only having 1/2 the people I invited come (even though I really wanted them all to come!)   It again showed me the power of the personal, thoughtful, face-to-face longing we all have.  Thank you for posting.  I’ve posted this on a couple of facebook pages I manage 🙂

  • Anonymous

    It’s hard to determine how much time is wasted on Facebook for me, as my part-time job entails me keeping Facebook open and monitoring the college’s FB page for comments, likes, etc. Because of it, I do get my personal notifications all the time, and spend time interacting on FB that I wouldn’t if I didn’t handle the college’s page. So I’m always on FB, but sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s play.

  • My wife and I choose to not even get wireless internet in our apartment so that we wouldn’t even be able to do the “I don’t know what to do so I’m going to jump on Facebook without even realizing that I’m on Facebook because it has become my knee jerk reaction to boredom…”

    It was an amazing 6 months of walks, conversation, etc.

    But like all good things it came to an end. Hard to launch a new website without the internet…so thank you for this reminder to control Facebook instead of the other way around!

  • Anonymous

    I’m with you.

    Dumb Facebook.

    Let’s make a better one. Okay?

    Possibly one that respects the users privacy?

  • Dena Smith Griswold

    Ouch. And thanks. I’ve known for awhile how much of my time I’ve allowed Facebook to consume…I recently admitted it and made a commitment to take back my time and invest more in “real life”–my photography and writing, face-to-face relationships, etc.

    Facebook serves me well as a means of communication, but I don’t need the “noise” of incessant status updates from some of my friends. I’ve deleted only a few friends, but I’ve blocked most of them from my newsfeed as a way of preventing myself from being sucked back in to reading everything.

    When I moved six years ago, I chose to not have satellite or cable in my new home, because I knew I could easily become addicted to sitting mindlessly in front of the TV every night. I haven’t really missed it at all. I didn’t know how easily I could become addicted to sitting mindlessly in front of Facebook every night. Rather than eliminate it entirely and create a whole new set of problems, I’m setting limits and making better choices.

    So far, it’s working. But a reminder now and then certainly helps!

    • you’re welcome. i’m saying “ouch” to myself, too. :/

  • Pingback: Social Media Strategy: 5 Things I Do Everyday To Make A Difference | David Santistevan()

  • One more tip, which I didn’t see that you fully explained: Before closing the window, actually sign out. It gives you one more hoop to jump through before you’re back online.

  • Your “rules” are exactly what I alraedy do for those exact reasons.  It’s like Twitter or email or any other connection device/service, you start to lose time in your life that you can’t account for or can only account for in a vague, memory sort of way.  Check it once or twice a day and get off!

  • Awesome post, Jeff.  Thanks.

  • Pilar Arsenec

    As always, very informative and helpful.

  • cher

    facebook definitely needs to be on a leash for me; I turned all notifications off a long time ago. Recently I took it off of my cell phone all together to tone down the distraction addiction. I’m practicing waiting without it.