My Facebook homepage

Spending Less Time on Facebook: Advice That Works

You need Facebook, but you don’t want to waste time. What to do?

Over the past year, I have tried various different strategies to reduce time wasted on Facebook. A few years ago, I even deactivated my FB for two months, but realized I needed it to communicate with family and distant friends. Meanwhile, I wanted to be more productive, and stop scrolling through the Newsfeed for 45 minutes every day.

In this investigation, I used the app RescueTime (YC 08) to track how much time I wasted given each strategy.

Strategy 1: The Chrome extension “Facebook Nanny”

This Chrome extension blocks you from visiting Facebook after a certain amount of time. However, I have been developing apps on Facebook, so sometimes I’d need to check the developers site.

Or what if a friend sent me a FB message asking about homework due tomorrow, and I needed to respond? I would open up an incognito window or disable the Chrome extension. This strategy failed miserably. I was still spending 4 hours on FB weekly.

RescueTime email

*Note: I spend a lot of time on Gchat since the cofounder of my startup Codentical is across the country.

Strategy 2: The “Self Control” App

This app blacklists IP addresses, so there is no way to visit a site once you activate it. While this worked, it still did not solve the problem of needing to communicate with others. When someone messaged me asking something important, I would get the pop up on my phone, and be annoyed I could not respond on my computer. I type 145 words per minute, and I probably text ~40 words per minute.

The Self Control app made me feel like a kid in a candy store. Except I was restrained by a 2 foot “kid leash.” I refrained from activating it, and I still spent ~4 hours on FB weekly during finals.

At this point, I realized that the Newsfeed was the root cause of my wasted time.

I needed FB chat. I needed the ability to look up where a family member was located, or which friends worked where. I did not need to browse the Newsfeed. Using the verb “browse” in the previous sentence is an indication that this is not a necessary activity. I would find myself looking at pictures of someone I met 6 years ago, or being annoyed by sponsored stories. Ugh.

Strategy 3: The Chrome extension “Stylebot”

I have been using the Stylebot extension to customize the CSS of Wikipedia. Here is what my Wikipedia looks like:

After my realization, I thought of using Stylebot to hide certain elements on Facebook.

I would hide the Newsfeed and the annoying ticker, while still displaying chat, birthdays, and profiles. Perfect!

The past few weeks, I’ve averaged 35 minutes on Facebook. Success.

I have everything I want from Facebook without all the bogus distractions. Is it a coincidence that this is how Facebook makes money? After all, their goal is to make the Newsfeed as addicting as possible.

If you’d like to do this as well, you can download the Chrome extension Stylebot here.

And here is my Stylebot theme: Some commenters have informed me that the Stylebot site has some errors, so here is my CSS. First open Stylebot in Chrome, and then click “Edit CSS” at the bottom. Copy and paste this in*:

#pagelet_home_stream, #stream_pagelet { opacity: 0;
}#pagelet_home_stream a, #stream_pagelet a { display: none;

Please recommend this article too :)

*Thank you Alex Rattray for the CSS improvements! Now Groups will display, just not the feed!