Why I Limited My Facebook Time To 30 Minutes A Day

By Robert Kennedy III

It was a long time coming.  I’ve taken mini social media fasts before just to test my will-power.  But, each time, I came back and fell in to the same habits as before.  I would have good days and bad days.

Of course, I wasn’t an addict, or so I said.  But, the truth was, I would find myself checking the site way more than I wanted. I would wonder about whether or not it was affecting my productivity.  But, then I would rationalize it away by saying I needed to remain visible for business purposes.  Is there some truth to that?  Maybe.  But, the facts were I was using my business page less and less.

So, where was the business?  Was I simply converting my personal space into a mainly business space?  Maybe.  Was I involving myself in groups for mainly business and learning?  Maybe.  There was’t really a clear cut answer.

So, I made the first decision.  I was going to go cold turkey.  I was going to cut it off for 12 weeks.  I was going to cut off all access without telling anyone just to see if I could do it.  But then, the last part of the sentence stuck out to me…’just to see if I could do it.’   Why was I really doing this again?  Ultimately, this wasn’t about willpower or proving anything to myself.  I wanted it to be about finding a better way to more purposeful with my time and activity.  I wanted to find a better way to balance so I could more intentionally and consistently do the things which were important to me.  

I wrote earlier that this year would be a BOLD year.  This meant not taking the same steps in the same way.  I didn’t need another social media fast.  I needed to recreate how I was running my day.   So, I wrote all of the reasons I could think of for using Facebook.  Of course, they included some of the standards:

– catching up with friends

– seeing what is going on in the world

– connecting more personally with people in my industry

Then, some of the business-like reasons:

– maintaining visibility

– empowering others

– understanding people’s needs and perspectives

– getting a pulse for potential clients

– learning more about publishing, podcasting, etc

Honestly, I could have come up with a fairly long list.  But, I stopped when I realized that I was manufacturing the list as I went along.  I wasn’t INTENTIONALLY doing most of this.  In order for me to be productive, I had to tell my time what to do.  And, in many areas, I was.  But, I let myself off the hook in this area.  When you let yourself off the hook, it causes leakage.  I was leaking and I didn’t know it.

Here’s how I found out.  Several years ago, I had set up Rescue Time as a way to track how much time I was spending with different online activities.  Rescue Time allows me to categorize different websites and rank them as anywhere from Very Productive to Very Distracting.  I used to have all of my social media as Very Distracting which would decrease my productivity score at the end of the week.  But over time (and many rationalizations) I had changed the categorization of Facebook from Very Distracting to Neutral.  This caused my productivity score to be a bit higher.  Placebo.  I was rigging the system.

But, in looking at the reports, I noticed that Facebook had become my second highest visited application.  Evernote was first (as it should be) and Facebook was ahead of email.  Wow.  That made me pause. I decided to reconsider my cold turkey decision.  I’d done the cold turkey before but always came back to the place of unintentional usage.  Now, I needed to reconsider the purpose and then simply determine how I was going to execute.  So, I adjusted and made the decision to determine HOW I would spend my time with this application (Facebook) and then limit it.

There was one more issue.  I’d used limiters and blockers in the past but they only limited or blocked my desktop or laptop.  In some cases, the limiters were only based on browsers.  I still had my mobile device and would simply access through the app.  So, truthfully, if I were to go back to that Rescue Time report, my usage should have been higher because it DIDN’T consider my mobile usage.   I needed something to give me a bit more control across all the devices I used regularly.

I started my search and came across a solution called Freedom.To.  Freedom is a paid solution.  But, it fit the requirements I had been searching for:     – it blocked the distracting sites I listed     – it allowed me to set up multiple time sessions     – it blocked desktop, laptop and mobile simultaneously through a VPN approach   I signed up to check it out for one month at first.  But, soon decided it was the app I needed to be more intentional.

Is it a perfect application?  No.  Because of how Facebook accesses IP addresses, Freedom couldn’t block the Facebook app on my phone.  So, I had to delete the app and use Facebook through the browser in order to achieve what I wanted.  This is fine except it currently takes away my ability to do Facebook Live when I want without re-downloading the app.  But, considering I’m creating more intentional time anyway, I will probably do my Lives through my business page which I can access through the FB Pages app.

Yes, this qualifies as one of those published lifehacks which work for some people and don’t work for others.  The point is not about discovering a system which works forever and ever and ever.  This is really about the adjustment and constant willingness to evaluate self and systems in order to reach the success you seek.  This is about being intentional.  It’s about recognizing growth and taking the opportunity to create your day instead of always being in reaction mode.   I’m creating my day in this way today.

In 6 months, I’ll take another look at it and share my next phase.