Over the years, I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Perhaps you feel the same way?
It can be a great way to connect people, whether that means staying in touch with distant friends or relatives, or enjoying groups you’ve joined (like Intentional Catholic Families) that connect you with others who share certain passions you have. I also love Facebook for the pages I follow; I have excellent Catholic articles, news, product recommendations, and other resources at my fingertips when I log on and connect with the Catholic people and apostolates I have “liked.”
But Facebook can also be a huge time drain, as the newsfeed threatens to have you scrolling for endless minutes, and constant clicking distracts you from the real to-do list and relationships right in front of you.
Here are some super simple things I do to keep my Facebook use in check, to maximize its benefits, reduce its dangers, and make sure the app is a servant to me…and not the other way around. Some of these tips can be applied to other social media platforms, too.
- Move the app off of your home screen on your smartphone (or off of your phone entirely)! I don’t keep my Facebook app on the home screen of my phone anymore. It’s too tempting to check it often when I see it staring me in the face every time I unlock my phone. Instead, take it off of your phone entirely, using a computer or another device to check your Facebook, or move it to a different screen on your smart phone so you have to consciously swipe and seek it out to use it.
- Only check Facebook at a designated time. You pick what time works for you – maybe lunch time? Maybe during kids’ naps or on a work break? Attach the time you check it to a daily habit or to an exact time of day (two times if needed), and then stick to that plan so you don’t find yourself constantly hanging out on there all day. Most importantly, don’t check it at the sacrifice of others in your physical presence. Be alone (or at least wait until others around you are occupied) to check Facebook. Finally, consider setting a timer to remind you to log off if you really need a self-control check.
- Turn off notifications! For a long time now, I’ve gone without Facebook notifications on my smart phone. It’s seriously a must-do. Now, I check it when I have intentionally decided to check it, and not every time I hear a “ding” or see a notification icon floating above the app. All you need to do is go to Settings on your phone, find the Facebook app, turn off notifications, and breath a sigh of relief and freedom.
- Customize your newsfeed. This is one of my favorite tricks that I can’t live without. I used to see all this stuff on my newsfeed that I really didn’t care about, but the thought of taking the time to unfollow, unlike, or un-friend all the stuff I didn’t enjoy seeing sounded too daunting. Instead, I spent a few minutes one day choosing what I wanted to see first in my newsfeed. For example, I visit a page I like (let’s take my page, Katie Warner, as an example?), and then, under the “Following” button, I click “See First” (see screen shot on right). I did this with all of my favorite pages, so now when I open Facebook and see my newsfeed, I scroll through the first several posts on the feed (which is where my “See First” pages all pop up now) and after I’m done browsing through that list and the newsfeed switches to random people and posts and pages, I stop scrolling. Huge time saver. Finally, this video on how to control your feed has some great tips for making lists to organize content you actually care to see.
- Save links for later. While you’re busy scrolling through your See First pages (which hopefully has been narrowed down to the treasured few), check for those three little dots in the top right of the post, and click the option “Save link” (see screen shot on right). Then, come back to read the article later. If you really want to read it, you will. If you were just in a click-everything-that-might-look-interesting mode, then this is a good way to save yourself from reading every somewhat-interesting article you see.
- Go straight to your notifications. When I’m done scrolling through my See First pages and posts on my newsfeed (sometimes I don’t even do that and I just skip to this step), I go straight to my notifications – you know, that little world button in the top right corner? I click on that and and then click on the notifications that are relevant to me – posts in certain groups I’m in, someone who wrote on my wall (do people do that anymore?)…and then I check my private messages.
That’s it. I really don’t spend time doing anything else on Facebook – not much searching, scrolling, picture-clicking. I can actually say that it’s a useful tool to me now, and not a giant time-drain, frustration, or in-person relationship-threat. Whether you think you have a healthy relationship with Facebook or you could use a little re-prioritizing, hopefully one of these tips will help you in the effort to put social media use in its rightful place in your life!