hab·it, noun: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary
Over the past few weeks I’ve caught myself finishing a task and automatically redirecting to Facebook. A few seconds after looking at my news feed, I realize I didn’t come here for a specific purpose and I really don’t even have much to catch up on, but I still visit the site regularly. Sitting at a computer and writing for the Web all day, it’s now second nature for me to click in and out of Facebook throughout a typical work day.
It’s not unusual to see college students deactivate Facebook around finals or midterms because the social network is a huge distraction and time-suck. Some people just deactivate to get back the “personal” part of their lives. There have been plenty of studies that dig deeper into whether this habit, the one that’s preventing us from studying for tests, completing tasks or creating personal connections in real life, becomes a legitimate addiction.
I would not consider myself addicted to Facebook. I’ve never felt the need to deactivate my account to get some part of my life back, I rarely use it on the weekends and I don’t feel withdrawal if I’m ever not on the site. It’s just simply a habit for me, Monday through Friday.
The importance of social media to businesses is constantly talked about, and for employees like myself, who deal with Web content, marketing, SEO and brand awareness, it’s kind of impossible to not visit social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook throughout the work week. Statistics prove bloggers are more active on Facebook and Twitter, especially because these social networks have become a primary form of communication.
Kicking the Habit
There are a lot of articles and tips out there with advice on how to break the Facebook addiction. For me, here are five ways I started to cut down on Facebook time.
1. Remove it from your bookmarks.
It’s become a systematic routine for me to automatically click on my Facebook bookmark when opening a new tab or window in my browser. It’s not like you’re ever going to forget what Facebook’s URL is. Removing it just takes away the immediate outlet for access to the social network.
2. Turn off chat.
It’s hard to stay off Facebook if friends are constantly chatting with you. Don’t sign off mid-conversation, because a) that’s rude and b) it will just make you come back to check on it. If you use Facebook for chat
3. Create a reward system.
If you’re finding yourself constantly checking in to Facebook, wean yourself off it with a productive reward-based to-do list. Give yourself X amount of tasks, and tell yourself you can check Facebook after you complete those tasks. This is probably for people that are more on the addicted side of Facebook, but it can only help you be more productive.
4. Shrink your friends list.
Disclaimer: I have a really big problem with this. I find it difficult to unfriend people. However, after a solid conversation with some coworkers, we’ve come to the conclusion that unfriending some Facebook friends cuts down on the people in your network, and therefore the number of posts you are trying to keep up with. Also, think about the people’s profiles you find yourself on consistently. Is it your close friends who you see multiple times a week? Maybe sometimes, but probably not. Facebook stalking has become a common term today because it’s so accurate; users are turning to Facebook to observe the lives of acquaintances, friends of friends and crushes, which they may not have known about if it weren’t for Facebook. If you’re like me and just can’t bring yourself to push that button, at least unsubscribe from them so you’re not constantly distracted in your news feed.
5. Delete the app
The times you will use the Facebook app are when you are most likely surrounded by people: with your friends, on public transportation, waiting on someone to meet up with or even walking. In all of these situations, try taking it back to the pre-smartphone days and interact with people, enjoy the scenery around you and avoid walking into another person or a pole. There are many other apps that could also contribute to the head-down walk and human avoidance, but Facebook is a start, especially if you’re trying to kick your habit of visiting the site as often.
Think you’re not addicted to Facebook? Take this quiz to find out!