How Not to Waste Time on Facebook

Facebook can be a swirling vortex in which time disappears.

It can also be a great platform for connecting with everyone from friends and family to business partners and potential clients.

Here are 4 simple ways you can stay out of the vortex and be productive (in no particular order).

Know Your Goals

Why are you on Facebook?  How do you plan to leverage it for your business?

Keep your personal connecting time and your business networking time separate if you really want to get results from your time on Facebook.  Clicking like on cute images of cats and watching funny videos friends are sharing isn’t so much “business” networking… instead go engage with your fans and clients on your business page and get some conversation going, or visit fan pages of your colleagues and clients to see what you can contribute to the conversations there.

Remember what you’re working towards when you’re there for “work” and use your time effectively.

Protect Your Time

Use a timer when you get on Facebook. Set it for the amount of time you’re willing to spend and then discipline yourself to be done when the timer goes off.

Need a little more help?  Try LeechBlock at or Rescue Time at

Customize Your Chat Settings

What’s your time worth a minute?  I keep my chat turned off.  Here’s how you can turn your off, or customize it just to show you online for family or close friends:

Step 1: Click the gear icon in the bottom right area of your screen.

Step 2: Choose whether you want to show up only for certain people or be completely off chat.  If you don’t want to be visible to anyone just uncheck “available to chat” and skip to step 4.

Step 3: Choose who to be visible to, then save with the “Okay” button.

Step 4: Click the little arrow button to hide the sidebar so you don’t see the live stream of updates and who’s online.

Get Better Notifications

Turn off Facebook email notifications for things like group posts and replies.  Do you need 50+ emails a day?  Or do you just need to know what’s going on in your social space?  I use NutShell Mail and PostRank to watch mine.  They’ll take all your activity and put it into one email for you so you can see what’s happening easily.


What Are Your Tips?

What works for you to be productive on Facebook?  What tips or tools do you have to share?

Woman Sitting on Clock Image Credit: andresr/StockFresh

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  1. Thanks for the advice! I’m sure a lot of people who just joined FB would be thankful for this post!
    jlem1125 recently posted… My Diet IdeasMy Profile

    1. Yes, I wish I’d known about NutShell mail a couple years ago. That one is particularly helpful. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Ways to Make Your Social Media More EffectiveMy Profile

  2. This may be the most important article on the whole Internet. Think of the thousands of work hours that could be clawed back if we all followed these instructions.
    I would add that you should just get rid of all your email notifications- given how often most people check facebook, is there really any need to be reminded to do so?

    1. I like to still receive some notice on mine since I want to be able to response to clients and questions from others and that’s easy to miss on Twitter. One or two emails a day is far less time wasted than dozens though.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How Not to Waste Time on FacebookMy Profile

  3. These are great reminders for us all, Michelle. I often get caught in the “vortex” of information on FB. Thank you and keep up the great posts!!

    1. It’s easy to get trapped in, Lisa. You’re in good company. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Are These Secret Fears Stopping You From Blogging?My Profile

  4. Always on time! This is just what I needed. I feel like I fritter away too much time on FB and on Twitter. Thanks again, Michelle!
    Alison recently posted… Still horrified…My Profile

    1. That can happen so quick — hop on just to check messages and time zooms by…
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How to Rock it on Twitter (Infographic)My Profile

  5. Great tips! I didn’t know you could limit Chat to certain groups, I just normally turn it off. I need to hide – especially from my family ;)
    Christie recently posted… What Can We Accomplish with Another Organizing Blog?My Profile

    1. Boundaries are good, Christie. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Ways to Make Your Social Media More EffectiveMy Profile

  6. Hi Michelle,

    It’s interesting that I’m reading your post at a time when I’m just going through a bit of overwhelm. It’s ironic that as a Social Media Manager I’m finding it overwhelming to maintain a regular presence on social media and active participation on Facebook.

    The challenge is separating doing replies and commenting on other people posts, particularly as I’m in several Facebook groups, and posting and sharing valuable information on my own Profile and my three Pages. In addition, I’m admin for my clients’ pages. It IS very important to build relationships and I have to revisit my strategy of using the timer that’s sitting on top of my computer. I’m also going to check out the services you mentioned.

    The truth is that if we use time wisely on Facebook it can be useful for growing our business depending on our goals.

    Thanks for doing the research, testing and sharing what works.

    1. You nailed it there, Yvonne. If we use our time wisely it’s a great tool.

      I’d imagine there could be a bit of fatigue hit if you’re managing multiple identities.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Looking Past LimitsMy Profile

  7. I am sorry….I would have commented earlier, but I was busy reading posts on Facebook….

    1. *giggle* Thanks for the laugh, Beth.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How to Rock it on Twitter (Infographic)My Profile

  8. Hmm trying to think what I have done to mine…..have chat turned off and also have it set that I’m only available to certain people I like to chat to or have a need to chat to….others can send me a message if they need to get hold of me….I did sit down and put people into lists….then I can just click on that list to go through things I need to read….people who just post cute pics or silly status stuff all day get put onto other lists that are not on the regular checking….I’ve hidden/blocked all the games etc so they can’t come up on my newsfeed….and any other new thing that looks like has the potential to go the same way…turn off all notifications unless it is something I really do need to keep up to date with…..I don’t spend time on my phone when I’m not home on facebook….if you are using it for business purposes….keep that as being checked in your work time….but don’t then flick over to your personal page
    Katrina recently posted… The Ball PitMy Profile

    1. Lists are a great tip, Katrina! Also blocking things like games. It’s been so long since I did that I forgot to include blocking. My stream used to be filled with FarmTown and MafiaWars. *blocked* Thanks for sharing those strategies.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Blogging from 40,000 FeetMy Profile

  9. Michelle, this is so cool! I was just finishing my 3rd post of the series “Spending too much time on …? 3 tips to help” for tips to be productive on Linkedin, twitter, and email. And the only blog post missing was Facebook, which BTW I was not going to write, because I do not know enough about FB at this point :)

    So this is just wonderful timing, thank you for this!
    Delia recently posted… Spending too much time on email? 3 tips to helpMy Profile

    1. Email is the one that usually gets me. Off to check out your post on that one. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Who Can You Serve Better?My Profile

  10. I have been on Facebook since late 2009, I had no idea what Facebook was about but I went there for one reason only … to create business relationships. I didn’t realize that the platform was intended for connecting with relatives and friends. Therefore, I was puzzled when people complained about losing their privacy. I never put anything on Facebook I don’t want to be public and I don’t say anything that will create a problem now or in the future. I don’t waste time on Facebook, however, I’m going to implement your #2 and #4, I wasn’t aware I had those options.

    Thanks Michelle. As always, you rock with practical insightful information.
    Adalia recently posted… Success affirmationsMy Profile

    1. That’s the best approach, Adalia. If you don’t want it public, don’t share it on the internet.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Build a Website Without ThisMy Profile

  11. I’m going to leave a thorough read of this until tomorrow. It looks totally awesome.

    I have nearly finished a series which was inspired by that awesome Twitter post you prepared the other day. I will finish it totally by this time tomorrow.

    I hope you’re having an awesome day

    Your friend across the pond

    David Verney recently posted… Managing Your Twitter Tweets and TribesMy Profile

    1. Hi David, glad the Twitter post was inspiring for you. I love to do series on my blog–makes the writing easier, you can delve deeper into topics, and it keeps readers coming back.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Build a Website Without ThisMy Profile

  12. Thank you for the reminder, Michelle! I get so “wrapped up” in keeping up with family, friends and (yes I admit) mindless perusing, liking and sharing on FB that I just wasted 2 hours that I could have used writing a couple posts for my blog! UGH LOL I don’t use the “chat” too often on FB though. Matter of fact, I just recently opted to be visible — I don’t like to be “disturbed” during my FB time! LOL
    Kimberly ~ Gypsy recently posted… Gearing up for NaNoWriMoMy Profile

    1. That’s something I’ve been working on, too — remembering that I can use my time better. I actually had to block all news websites on my browser a year or so ago because I got lost surfing the news. Now I can check briefly without getting drawn into the web. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Build a Website Without ThisMy Profile

  13. I don’t think you can’t be productive on facebook, really…Of course I use facebook but only when I really need to and when my business demands it, but generally not more then 10 minutes per day. Otherwise I find facebook the biggest waste of time ever created. I mean really, when I see people wasting hours on facebook doing absolutely nothing it boggles my mind….
    Cristian Balau recently posted… Live chat scriptMy Profile

    1. Sounds like you’ve got the art of not wasting time on Facebook mastered, Cristian. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Did Plan A Fail? Remember ThisMy Profile

  14. I definitely need to use the timer when on Facebook or twitter, its amazing how quickly time passes and how you realize you really haven’t done anything. Yikes! Good reminder and thanks for the article. Great as always.

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