Last November I deleted my Facebook account. I did this for many reasons, one of them being distraction. It had come to my attention that Facebook became a wasting of my time. Instead of sleeping when I laid in bed I would spend an hour or two flipping through my feed, taking quizzes, watching videos, etc. and wake up in the morning feeling groggy and tired. Checking my Facebook app became a habit. Stand in line; check Facebook. At lunch; check Facebook. Sitting on the couch; check Facebook. Get out of the shower; check Facebook. You get the picture. None of this enhanced or added to my life. In fact, it took away from my life. Instead of being productive, paying attention to my surroundings, getting sleep, engaging in and being present in social settings, I was allowing myself to be distracted by a screen. Something needed to be done about this bad habit.
After deleting my account, it felt a bit like I had cut myself off from the world. I was amazed at how Facebook created a sense belonging to a community. After this dissipated, I came to enjoy the disconnection. Gone were the days of distraction and procrastination. My writing time increased. I started reading more and participating in more creative endeavors. I also spent some of this time contemplating my intentions in using Facebook. The more time that passed, the less I felt like re-entering that world. The one thing I did miss was the connection with my writing community. I began exploring how I could re-enter the Facebook world for the purpose of staying connected to my writing community without becoming distracted again and wasting time. Seven months after deleting my account and taking a well needed break, I created a new account; this time with different intentions.
In life I have come to believe the following to be true: “Everything in moderation.”
Instead of seeing Facebook as a distraction, I worked out a way to use it as a tool and create some balance and moderation for myself. These are a few things I contemplated and the ways I altered my Facebook page to work for me as a writer:
1) Figure out what you are passionate about.
Don’t just leave Facebook open to anything and everything. Think about what you are passionate about and then move to number 2.
2) Follow people and pages that encompass your passions and tailor your news feed.
Everything you “like” on your page will tailor what you see on your feed. If you “like” a friend’s posts that are constantly negative, then your feed will bring you negativity. Be picky. Don’t just “like” things for the sake of liking things. Don’t “friend” someone or accept a “friend” request out of obligation. You get to create your Facebook world. Don’t invite others in who bring negativity. Tailor your news feed to see only what you want to see. Follow those who have similar passions, in my case I follow writers, friends that write, pages about writing, etc.
3) Set aside time for Facebook instead of checking it whenever, wherever.
With access to Facebook on your phone, it is easy to get caught up in this compulsive action. Checking Facebook can become a mindless act once the habit is created. Set limits for yourself. For example, you don’t need to check Facebook while sitting down to a meal, in the middle of a conversation or while at the register at the grocery store. Be mindful of this.
These three steps are what I used when re-entering the Facebook community and setting up my page. My tailored personal intentions were made up of the following:
-Create a community of writer friends and other pages having to do with writing.
-Like/follow pages that cater to my interests, such as backpacking, hiking, growing things, etc.
-Tailor my news feed to only “feed” me with information that will enhance my life with knowledge, joy and positivity.
-Limit my use of Facebook and constantly be aware of my intentions.
So far I have created an informative Facebook page full of notifications from journals for submissions, local readings/writing events, updates on publications from writer friends, banter about writing, language, teaching, etc. and informative articles about all things having to with writing and outdoor topics. To have so much information about writing in one place makes Facebook operate as a tool for my writing and with submission season in full effect, this is very helpful.
Not everyone may need this kind of discipline, but for me it is so easy to get lost in the screen. I no longer allow myself to take Facebook breaks when writing and just this tiny change has made all the difference in my productivity level. Hopefully sharing this will help you think about the little distractions in your life that keep you from doing what you really love to do and help you create a change or two that will restore balance. Especially for those who write, we all know that discipline and focus is the key to getting your words to reach an ending.
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