5 Reasons to Minimize Facebook Usage to Maximize Productivity

If you think you need Facebook, you may be right, but that may actually be a problem. If you are truly serious about ensuring the best for your productivity – and even your health – you should pay close attention to what research confirms about what we’ve all been thinking about regarding our Facebook (and other social media platforms) usage. They confirm the thoughts we’ve thought but not admitted: Facebook usage has grown over-excessive, to the point that might be doing substantially more bad than good, and it may be best to cut back. Not only may your school or work be suffering, but your physical and psychological health.

It makes sense. Think about it. How many times do you check your Facebook daily? What we’re receiving from it is rarely information that actually enhances our lives. It’s a tough thing to admit, and with one billion users on Facebook, it’s not just students and entrepreneurs who can benefit from these tips. If you’re someone who has made a commitment to active improvement, then please read on…

1. You’ve been duped: Information Anxiety!

There’s no denying that Facebook can be a decent place to gain information – if you’re actively looking for researching information. Let’s be honest, are we really? You may be following news outlets, magazines, blogs, and celebrities to hear what they have to say, but are you actively seeking news for relevant information that does you good? It turns out we may just be afraid of “missing out” on information, thinking you’re actually caring about it.  This “information anxiety” is no longer just our grandma telling us to go outside. Now, science is telling us. A study conducted on 243 college showed that social anxiety and the need for reassurance served as a significant moderator of the relationship between anxiety and problematic Facebook usage.  If you’re someone who works or regularly spends time behind a computer screen of any kind (so most of us) your anxiety may be coming from both of these places: because you feel you’re missing out, and because you feel you need to contribute to the conversation. It’s like a circle of friends that you feel left out from, except this circle of friends keeps leaving us out, over and over, every time we put the phone or laptop down. The truth is, we’re not actuallymissing out on anything, but we feel we are.

2. Depression

We’re not just talking about general internet usage, but studies specifically done on Facebook usage. If you thought being anxious about missing out was bad, imagine that coupled with actual depression. You may already know of the growing use of many anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds, and it’s for a reason.  Now, if you’re in the same college aged demographic, it looks pretty bad. Aside from the fact that depression is under-disclosed, a study published on the journal of the ADAA (people funded to study this, The Anxiety and Depression Association of America), 200 Facebook profiles of that same college aged group showed that 25% of them were displaying depressive symptoms – displaying, on Facebook.  These are college students. If you’re already in a professional life, running those numbers with more stress may not have a pretty outcome.

3. Comparing yourself to others.

You’re probably thinking you don’t do it, especially if you’re on top of your game and completely self-confident. But the thing is, being on top of your game and self-confident doesn’t exclude you from Facebook’s central-focused platform. Chances are, you’re inevitably online, comparing yourself to others, which is an extremely unhealthy habit. Causing depression and anxiety as well, envy on Facebook (“technically termed Facebook Envy”) is backed by science, not just a wise tale. Two independent studies of 584 profiles demonstrated that Facebook usage exacerbated feelings of envy, which decreases life satisfaction – not satisfaction while you’re on Facebook, but satisfaction outside of it. We aren’t just comparing ourselves online then forgetting our negative emotions. And, being that it’s Facebook, we’re not even comparing ourselves to reality, and that’s a whole other article for another day. Simply put, the research showed Facebook to be perceived as a stressful environment. Would you step into a room that has a high chance of stress and compare yourself to others, just because? Would you do it a lot of times a day? This might be a good way to think about it, because we’re taking this stress with us as we exit the room.

4. What time is it? Gone.

If it’s not clear by now, time is being wasted! Knowing we would not step into a room that makes us envy others, gives us anxiety or depression, multiple times a day, it almost seems absurd to purposefully waste our time. The good thing is, we’re not doing it on purpose, so there’s hope. If you value your time, and if you’re reading our articles, there’s a good chance you do, know that the research is out: the average amount of time used on Facebook is nearly an hour a day. While this may not sound like much, know it factors ALL demographics, so this includes your grandparent’s computer time. Chances are, your time online is more than one hour a day. But even if it was just one hour, that’s seven hours a week – and probably more, so realistically, you’ve got a little part-time gig that takes money out of your pocket and gives you a growing mental illness as a pay-stub. It sounds grim, but the truth isn’t always pretty. Mental health illness will sap your productivity and health, and wasting your time will directly sap your earning potential.

5. Relationships.

One of the biggest reasons we are on Facebook is because it is a form of connecting with others. It is, after all, a social network. The issue is inherent, though. It’s not really that social.  A 2010 study from Carnegie Melon found that people’s sense of loneliness decreases, only as long as they were spending the time posting on walls, liking, and messaging people. It’s a slippery slope. The thing is, we want to be social, and we’re on something that isn’t. Facebook seems to replace sociability. Your relationships may be suffering. Now, previously we’ve been told that it’s not good for our love life to be on Facebook so much…if the trend of new research follows, I think science may confirm this pretty soon.  And the more we post on Facebook, the harder it seems to get out. We should really be seeking quality in our relationships that make us feel fulfilled, not empty quantities that keep us coming back empty handed.

Why limit Facebook to once a day? Isn’t that a little overboard?

Nope.  Unless it’s a strong part of your work, seriously consider your reasons for being on Facebook. You’re likely to fall into more than one of these five categories, and any one of them is terrible. Aside from the quantitative detriments of hours wasted (and they are being wasted), the qualitative detriments are to be taken just as seriously: anxiety and depression can crush your productivity and health – potentially taking more from you than time does. What is your purpose? The last thing you want to do is be starting your business and have Facebook literally changing your brain’s biochemistry to an actually depressed state…while in a slippery slope that makes you want to remain there. 

You want to be in the front seat in life. You have one life. GIVE yourself the BEST.

The best results come when we are active and take control of our time and decisions. Facebook telling you to be online for no purposeful reason, and then sapping your energy, and counting ‘likes’ as reinforcement on top of that, is not the front seat. If you are truly checking Facebook to be caught up on some news and a few friends, why not do that one time, since that’s really the only amount of times it takes in a day to do so? Facebook is not the only place to find news. The justification to repeatedly get online to see what’s going on is almost too easy.  It’s a 46+ billion dollar business, it’s supposed to keep you coming back. Unless your career revolves around social media, you’re probably falling into the Facebook trap…but even you have a social media career, you’re probably falling into it even more. You don’t want to be online because you feel you have to, but rather when you electively want to. Let’s take control of our use and strive for the best for ourselves – and others. Make a commitment and effort to control your time, instead of it controlling you. Freedom is living life on your own terms, and science is showing us that making this adjustment can give us so much more.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26383178: Hooked on Facebook: The Role of Social Anxiety and Need for Social Assurance in Problematic Use of Facebook.

Ryan Magada

Brave Little Beast is a boutique design firm based in Columbus, Ohio. We help small businesses and startups build beautiful websites, logos, and everything in between.