How to use Facebook without wasting time and energy

Maintaining focus in an increasingly distracted world

The negative correlation between Facebook and happiness has become well-documented (1, 2, 3, 4, etc, etc). I noticed the negative impacts it was having on my own life but I didn’t think quitting it completely was sustainable. So I set it up, as detailed below, in order to get the benefits of using Facebook without the drawbacks.

One of my main problems was spending far longer on Facebook than I intended, so many of the steps below are aimed at preventing the need to log in and, if logging in is essential, facilitating the process of logging out without wasting too much time.

The main benefits of Facebook and how I access them:

  • Organising events: I changed my settings so that I receive email notifications for event invitations. When I get an email, I write the event in my calendar. As long as I know about the event, I can talk to my other friends who are attending and will be aware of any changes in date or time plus other relevant details
  • Instant messaging friends: I have downloaded Facebook Messenger on my phone, which works independent of the Facebook App. So I can be logged out of Facebook everywhere else on my device but still message any of my Facebook friends.
  • Posting articles or sharing ideas: I use Buffer to share articles I write or other ideas that I want to share — remotely, without logging in. This has the added benefit of timing my posts to when the most people are online and thus reach the largest audience. It also means I can share articles and prevent myself from neurotically checking the number of likes or comments it gets. This helps me to worry less about the opinions of others and ensure intrinsic motivation triumphs over extrinsic.
  • Sharing photos: I use Instagram to share photos, again saving me from logging in and preventing me from checking likes and comments.

I now only log in about once a month, as due to the above systems I have little need.

The downsides of Facebook include wasting time, subconscious negative emotional effects and increased concern about the perception of others. On the rare occasion that I DO log into Facebook, I minimised the amount of time I spent logged in by doing the following:

  • I changed my password into a series of letters, numbers and symbols and wrote it down on a bit of paper. I put this in a drawer along with a few relevant inspirational quotes and other stimuli that will make me think twice before deciding to log in.
  • I downloaded the ‘News Feed Eradicator for Facebook’ Google Chrome extension, which replaces your newsfeed with an inspirational quote.

Implementing the above has enabled me to feel like I’m not missing out while still having more time and energy to enjoy things in the real world. I’ve written a more detailed report on the benefits I gained here.