These days we have tons of ways to get distracted online. These can be various communities, films, games and social media, of course. It’s a huge area with an enormous amount of resources with the most popular ones, like Youtube, TikTok, Twitter, Reddit and others.
When we talk about how to stop a bad habit of visiting social media websites, we can refer to the whole broad area of online platforms. They have different niches and topics, but the key thing that brings the most harm usually is that they suck a lot of time.
We spend much more time visiting social media sites than we think
There is no doubt: the danger of visiting social media sites is not that obvious for most people. In the end, what is the bad stuff that can happen if you check Reddit one more time?
Frequently social media sites aren’t considered to be a bad habit at all! You may communicate with your friends and family members using some of their dedicated functions (like Messenger in Facebook).
Besides that, social media helps you catch on to the latest news and trends, they give you some sort of ‘connection’ with the world. They can give you connections with the people who share your interests, like subreddits, for example.
My personal bad habit and how I detected it
My personal experience also consisted of the not-so-bad habit of surfing regularly. I noticed that I was satisfied when I opened my social media site (like Facebook) and scrolled ‘for a few minutes’ just to ‘clear my mind’ and ‘distract myself’. It felt good in the end.
For example: you work on something online, you feel tired, you go and check FB Feed. Sounds good, right? Well, it’s not.
At some point I realized that FB took somewhere like 1.5-2 hours of my time per day. I used a Chrome extension called “Webtime tracker” to measure it. To be honest, I like tracking time – that’s what I do sometimes for all of my activities, to get better idea on how I spend it.
In the end, seeing these numbers doesn’t look productive. Neither I felt scrolling through Facebook feed to be a productive activity for ‘clearing mind’ during the work hours.
How I stopped visiting social media sites (Facebook, to be precise)
Visiting Facebook regularly isn’t a healthy routine, to be honest. I was trying to justify this activity in a way that I ‘learn stuff from Facebook groups’, but the problem is that you often get distracted by your friends’ photos, some news headlines, different fun vids and pics.
So, first I tried limiting it to some point (like, no more than 30 minutes per day) – which I failed completely. I realized that my addiction to social media was stronger than the limits (or boundaries) I was trying to set. That’s why I used the more radical way – Redirector.
Solution to stop using Facebook for Desktop
I started with my laptop (since I use it at work) and found a Chrome extension called Redirector. What it should do is to redirect me literally to a different page every time that I visit a social media site. That was supposed to be a solution.
The extension itself is very simple and allows you to set some rules:
- When should it trigger (eg, which page you should visit to make it work)
- What should happen (eg, where do you want to be redirected)
So, I installed it and it definitely helped me beat my bad habit. The random, spontaneous ideas to open FB feed were useless, since it just redirected me to the empty Google Doc every time.
Solution to stop using Facebook for Mobile
When I stopped using FB actively from my laptop, I’ve got the similar habit in my smartphone – since I had the Facebook app installed.
To fix it, my first step was removing the app completely (although it felt like a big step, to be honest. I’ve always considered the FB app as something ‘default’ for my device).
My second step (which I keep practicing now) was turning off my internet connection in my smartphone when I don’t need it. I switched my phone from ‘online-by-default’ to ‘offline-by-default’. And having this extra step makes you less likely to visit any social media site at any random second.
I work with Facebook Ads – so how do I use the platform?
To be honest, once I gave up my FB habit, I was concerned about the fact that I need it anyway for work. In most cases I use Ads Manager (to run, analyze and manage ads), but sometimes I need platform access too (to check ad previews, for example).
These facts made me adjust my Redirector rules in a way that I was allowed to see the Ads Manager pages and ad preview pages whenever I needed. This exclusion made this approach perfect:
- I am able to use Ads Manager and Business Manager
- I can see ad preview (in feed)
- I can’t see the feed itself – it gets redirected to empty Google Doc
It’s not about Facebook or social media. It’s about us
It’ll be a lie if I tell you that this experiment with getting rid of Facebook made me productive person without bad habits of surfing. Soon after I abandoned Facebook feed, I found a couple of more places to hang on – Reddit and Linkedin.
With Linkedin it was simple – I just added another rule to my Redirector setup and it worked well. This craving to check my notifications, updates or random feed news disappeared.
With Reddit it was harder, since I consume lots of valuable content, ideas and insights from some useful subreddits. These are /productivity, or getdisciplined. I can’t completely stop using them, since I need more ideas for this blog about productivity (which I write as part of my experiment).
However, Reddit has /worldnews – a subreddit which took many hours of my time as well. So, again – Redirector helped me to put the proper rules and block this sub for myself.
This change I made literally a few days ago, so I just didn’t manage to find a proper ‘bad habit replacement’, which I’d start checking regularly and waste my time. However, I’m sure I will find such – since that’s how our brain works, we are looking for our instant gratification in any way possible.
- It all started with the fact that I noticed: I may spend too much time checking my Facebook Feed during working hours – which feels counterproductive
- Besides that, I used it as ‘a way to rest’ – but it was the opposite. I just loaded my mind with a stream of useless information (mostly)
- I started with measuring. Using a chrome extension that tracked time spent in every website helped me confirm my hypothesis: I definitely spent a lot of time regularly on Facebook
- I used the simplest, yet the most ‘sure-thing’ way to avoid scrolling the feed – Redirector. It is redirecting me to a blank Google Doc every time I try to go to Facebook
- I made some exceptions though, if I check work-related stuff there
- Immediately after giving up Facebook, I’ve found myself scrolling Reddit and Linkedin. So, I had to configure the relevant fields in Redirector as well.
I started this blog as an attempt to improve my writing skills and to establish a proper writing routine. I share notes and tips about productivity, products and routines. I believe that this blog will keep me accountable and (hopefully) will help someone else too.