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I Tracked Every Minute I Spent on Facebook and This Is What I Discovered

Photograph by Twenty20

I often joke that if I could have just one more hour in the day, I would get so much more done.

With an extra hour, I could catch up on my mountain of laundry. I could exercise. I could paint my nails. And my daughter’s. I could organize the cabinet under the sink. I could set up an epic superhero battle with my son. An hour is truly a lot of time to do something meaningful or productive.

Then, I realized that my joke carried some weight.

These are important things. These are things that deserve time. These are things I need to find an hour (or more) for. So, what if I could scrounge up that extra hour? Or, at least, redistribute my time to make it feel like I had an extra hour?

First, I decided that I needed to track my time. Time-tracking is such an eye-opener. I've spent a few seasons monitoring how I spend my time and recently I determined that Facebook was most likely a time suck I needed to curb.

I think we've all been there. Don’t feel bad. I'm actually very thankful for social media. It does have its place. And, perhaps more than anyone, I need boundaries to keep it where it belongs. I need to protect my hours. Because they are precious and few. And my baby still wakes up at night, so I should rarely be choosing Facebook over sleep.

Some can fully step away—take a social media sabbatical. I adore these cold-turkey folks. They know their limit and they take drastic steps to reclaim the minutes that fall into social media quicksand. But, part of my job relies on social media connection, so I can't fully walk away. Instead, I decided to track every minute I spent on Facebook.

After two weeks of logging my Facebook time, I learned that "the scroll" is most definitely my modern-day vice.

When I'm bored. When I'm happy. When I'm sad. When I need a distraction. I scroll.

In the back of my mind, I knew this. I knew I spent too much time on Facebook. But looking at the paper spreadsheet I kept next to my computer proved that tapping or typing on Facebook had become too routine. When I'm bored. When I'm happy. When I'm sad. When I need a distraction, I scroll. I read articles, I comment, I flip through photos of your vacation and read your kid's cute quotes. I post the same.

Since I can't walk all the way away, I've opted to set new boundaries to help me manage my scrolling habit. Giving social media specific time ensures it doesn't steal time.

My first boundary? I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. It just isn’t necessary for me. I don’t need one last glance while laying in bed and I definitely don’t need the scroll temptation when I’m with my kids—which is always. This alone has given me back close to an hour each day.

If you’re not ready to delete the app, consider setting a screen time limit or at least checking your own social media usage through the iPhone Screen Time feature. To adjust these details go to “Settings” and then “Screen Time” (it’s grouped with Notifications, Sounds and Do Not Disturb.) You can view your phone usage by category and set limits. And, if you dare, you can even see how many times you pick up your phone each day.

Next, I’ve continued to keep a log of my time on Facebook on a piece of paper next to my computer. I know, #oldschool. When I log on for work, I stick to my tasks and log the time I spend for accountability. Then, I allot myself an extra 10 minutes. I can scroll, shop, post … whatever I want. When the 10 minutes is done, I chart my final time, close the tab and get on with the things I really need to spend my time on.

Tracking my time on Facebook helped me realize that I need boundaries and accountability when it comes to social media. I may be a 30-something mom of four, but I’m definitely still learning how to manage my time well. It’s easy to say, “I’m going to cut back,” and it’s quite another to outline exactly how I’ll make it happen.

My kids have screen time limits for a reason—and now, so do I. I'm not mad about it.

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