Do you suffer from FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – when it comes to social media updates? You’re not alone. Recent studies have shown that many people want to curtail that time-consuming Facebook habit in order to read more, spend more time connecting with people on a truly personal level or pursue other hobbies.
However, it’s not that easy. Research from Cornell Information Science, published in 2015, identified a condition called ‘social media reversal,’ to refer to people’s failure to quit.
One participant even said: “In the first 10 days [of trying to quit], whenever I opened up an internet browser, my fingers would automatically go to 'f'.”
Are you in the same boat? Here are some tips to help you beat the habit.
Step 1: Go Messenger only
Do you only go on Facebook to use the instant messaging? Did you know you can do this without having to visit Facebook.com or having the main Facebook mobile app?
If you want to leave Facebook completely and only use Messenger, here’s how to do it.
Step 2: Unfollow the clutter
Do you ever read your News Feed and think “I don’t care about any of this”, but still find yourself strangely drawn to reading it? So do we. The solution is to unfollow all of those guilty pleasures like oversharing school friends and drama-seeking cousins. That way you aren’t distracted by the constant rigmarole of their lives but don’t have to deal with the awkwardness of totally unfriending someone.
Go to Facebook.com and hit Friends on your profile. Hover over a name to bring up their profile card and untick the Following button. After a bit of house cleaning you’ll only see updates from people you want to. The result? Less time wasted on Facebook.
Step 3: Turn off mobile notifications
The Cornell study found that Facebook notification alerts had the same effect as internet ‘clickbait’ – links so compelling that you just can’t resist clicking! It’s a compulsive behaviour that becomes addictive, causing a distraction from work and a tendency to remain on the site or app after reading the latest notifications.
If you’re using the Facebook mobile app, try turning off push notifications within the phone settings or limiting the types of notifications you receive in the app settings. (Head to More > Settings > Notifications > Mobile.) That way you’ll only see if you have alerts when opening the app or website.
Step 4: Download a little Self Control
Focusing on work in the social media era is tricky (in fact, we’ve checked Twitter and Facebook at least five times while writing this guide).
If you simple don’t have the self-discipline, there are several programs that can deny you access when the temptation arises. Apps like Self Control for Mac or Cold Turkey for Windows allow you to block certain websites from your web browser for a set period of time. Voila, no social media access for you.
Step 5: Use a different browser
Nothing kills productivity like an open Facebook.com tab in the web browser. When working online, that little blue icon in the eye line can be too tempting to ignore. “Just a quick look,” you say as you give into the urge.
Our advice would be to close the window and completely log out. But if you absolutely must have Facebook open, open it in a different browser to the one you use for your work tasks. That way, you should find yourself checking it less often.
Step 6: Never miss a friend’s birthday
A once-a-day visit to Facebook.com guarantees you won’t suffer the indignation of missing a friend’s birthday. It’s a clever feature Facebook uses to ensure you keep coming back.
However, you can avoid going to the site completely by syncing your computer, smartphone or tablet to your Facebook account. This will ensure Facebook events like birthdays and parties will automatically be pulled into the calendar app. That way, you’ll get a notification of an event.
On the web, go to Facebook.com/events. At the bottom right, click Birthdays and then select a Calendar app to export to.
Alternatively, you can copy the URL into your favourite calendar app on the web, like Google Calendar.
Step 7: Go cold turkey
The authors of the Cornell study used data from a site called 99DaysOfFreedom.com. It was designed to study the impact of how Facebook affects happiness, shortly after the company conducted controversial mood experiments by filling user’s timelines with positive or negative status updates.
99 Days of Freedom (99DoF) encourages you to go cold turkey and win back some freedom. If you succeed it’ll win you back an average of 28 hours over the period. “Remove apps. Log Out. Enjoy Life,” the page encourages.
Step 8: Think of your privacy
The study of 5,000 99DoF users found those with concerns over their privacy were more likely to go back to Facebook.
“Users who felt their Facebook activity was being monitored were less likely to revert, while those who use Facebook largely to manage how other people think of them are more likely to log back in,” the authors wrote.
Step 9: Take care with Twitter too
Shutting down Facebook can lead to overcompensation in other areas, so be careful. During our Facebook hiatus, we spent far too much time checking Twitter instead, eagerly hitting that ‘1 new tweet’ tab whenever it pops up. Be careful you don’t go out of the frying pan and into the fire. Remember, tips 1, 3 and 4 work with Twitter too.
Read more in our article: How to set up Facebook privacy settings.
If you get really fed up - you can delete your account. Check out the video below to find out how.