I love Facebook. It allows me to keep up with friends who I’ve lost contact with over time. Friends relocate, they change jobs and life in general always seems to get in the way.

The best way I know of keeping in touch is through Facebook. But it comes with a price.

Hear That Sucking Sound?

But let’s face it. Facebook sucks up time like a vacuum cleaner. All of a sudden you’ll realize that a couple of hours have gone by and the house looks like hell or the trash never got put out or the clock struck midnight and you have to get up by 5:30 the next morning. That swooshing sound you hear is Facebook sucking time out of your day.

A couple of years ago I realized that either Facebook had to go or I had to get stronger in my resolve to limit its use. The latter option is where I began.

Round 1: Trying to Get Control

At first I went in every morning and allowed myself only 20 minutes to check my news feed. Every night I did the same, but I would still slip off the wagon and find myself at midnight as happy as a clam commenting back and forth with whoever was still up.

Or a Saturday morning would slip by and there I would be sitting in my pj’s glued to the screen as time sped toward noon. An entire morning lost.

Round 2: Success

Finally, I had to get real and cut out Facebook or drop my page. That is when I discovered the “Close Friends” feature. If you check your friend as a close friend, then you get an email every time they post.

I automatically check my emails every morning and every evening anyway, and there they are – my close friends’ emails waiting for me to check them out.

I have all my family members – children, in-laws, husband, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. checked as close friends and my truly closest friends, too. I have a few of my old high school buddies, college buddies, and former career colleagues checked as well.

These are the ones who usually post only the important events in their lives, like pictures of their children and grandchildren or when something truly important is happening to them. These friends are the ones who don’t post every day.

Checking in with a Purpose

A few years ago, when we planned a high school class reunion, I checked everyone in my class who was on Facebook. It was fun to keep up with their lives just before we got together. By the time of the reunion I had things to talk to them about, such as how their daughter was getting along in graduate school or how little Timmy was doing.

You can check someone as a close friend for a short period of time and then uncheck them later if needed, which is what I did after the reunion.

Managing Your News Feed

A note about my friends is in order here, though. I’m still very careful about who I friend. If I don’t know them, I don’t accept their request. It keeps my numbers down.

And if one of my close friends keeps posting offensive comments or posts too often, such as a Candy Crush player, I uncheck them but keep them as a regular friend. I’m truly interested in what they have to say, but time is precious. I would rather spend it writing my book or even more important, visiting with my family.

So if you are having Facebook separation anxiety, but you know that something has to change, give this a try. I think you’ll find that it helps tremendously.

How to Set up Your “Close Friends” on Facebook

All you need do is go to your friend’s Facebook page, then click on “Friends” in the top box to the right of their name. Next, scroll down the options and click on “Edit Friends List.” Then, click on “Close Friends.” I tried it on my immediate family members first, then added more later as I got used to the feature.

I have friends who were afraid to use Facebook because they were worried about time lost. This tip has helped them use Facebook just to keep up with their offspring.

The Close Friends feature has worked amazingly well for me over the last couple of years. I finally got control of my Facebook addiction!

What do you enjoy most about keeping up with people via Facebook? How do you manage your time online? Do you have a tip to share with others? Please join in the conversation in the comments below.

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