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Or how would you deal with it? What do you think is the best approach? (Except shutting down facebook, which doesn't help me if I still know I'm forced to sit at home or in the library anyways.)

Definition: FOMO = "fear of missing out" - The fear that if you miss a party or event you will miss out on something great - UrbanDictionary (April 14, 2011 Urban Word of the Day)

Article about FOMO: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/04/14/fomo-addiction-the-fear-of-missing-out/

My actual question is: How do I deal with that INTERNALLY, mentally, if I cannot control (all) incoming "FOMO triggers"?

For example: I can close facebook all I want, but if a friend knocks on my apartment door or I study in a public place, getting these external interferences is unavoidable!

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I think this question could have a broader sense than you intended, at least with the title's current wording. It's not only about missing out social events, but FOMO could easily be applied to productivity itself. I feel it all the time when needing to decide between studying this or that, or dedicating to one or other personal projects. –  Vic Goldfeld Sep 27 '12 at 23:40
    
Vic, that is a good point! I simply used the definition as is and actually didn't add any details (thus one could even reversely say my question is too broad or open for interpretation). Again I want to emphasize: What if you are literally FORCED to "miss out"? There are times when I just cannot do X: Sure I COULD make the free time, but not with severe detrimental effects on me or my career. –  grunwald2.0 Sep 28 '12 at 7:30

4 Answers 4

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Plan for the long term. Decide what you want to accomplish in your life and how you expect to get there.

I have a personal to do list for the weekend and weekday nights, including a few things for long term goals. Usually, I'll schedule one weekend off or several nights off just to waste time, do nothing, and have fun.

Refuse anything outside those scheduled hours. Once you've got something to do, you have a solid excuse to say "no". If you need a 'little white lie', tell your friends that you've made plans with someone else and that they should have informed you earlier. Or just say "Hey, I really need to read this book, but we'll do something next Saturday." Of course, your 'next Saturday' should be scheduled free to just relax with friends.

Optimize when you expect fun things to happen.

You will always be missing out on something. There's just too many things going on. And frankly, nothing good actually happens most of these times. 90% of everything is crap. But people will remember the 10%. That 10% of really good stuff is rarely random; it happens with the right people, the right situations, the right conditions.

Random parties are usually going to be boring. Small, 'forced' birthday parties are boring. Occasional, well-planned parties with secret surprises are fun and the surprises trigger even more random fun.

So, you should either create the optimum conditions for something useful to happen or just make sure you're not spending all your focus waiting for something to happen. Treat it like a gambling habit - just allocate a bit for it and make sure you don't spend everything you have for it.

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This is a very good approach and I think many people want and try to do this - but struggle with it! I still struggle with it too, but again: NOT because I am not disciplined (I do what is on my list currently), but because it is still a psychological burden on me. To clarify: FOMO does not only mean the activities itself, but has also socio-economic implications. If I cannot afford to "party like a rockstar" or even have to work for $ on friday and the weekends instead of going to a baseball game or cinema with buddies, then I think the emotional and psychological impact is totally different. –  grunwald2.0 Sep 29 '12 at 14:10

Establish your core.

Define what is "great".

Do you want to be the one that is "great", or do you want to watch others being "great"? But remember that we are all human, and there is no Ubermensche.

I keep in mind that every relationship involves a balance. "Everybody has their own agenda." I... think everybody has a need to keep in touch with what's going on, but at some point consuming external stories leads to the dissolution of our own stories.

I guess the summation of how I deal with FOMO is this counteracting phrase:

jerKed. around. by life

Then I try to view the event in terms of my own story.
Then I rewrite what I am doing, or continue executing my agenda.

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Good points! May I ask what you mean by "jerked around"? (I'm no native speaker) Does it mean ~ "thrown around chaotically"? –  grunwald2.0 Sep 29 '12 at 14:06
    
Yes, that's the general image. To "jerk" means to suddenly pull. Haha I think of a leaf in a hurricane vs an airplane cruising in a clear sky and in control. –  Meredith Sep 29 '12 at 23:16

It would help if you described more precisely what exactly is the problem for you. More precise questions often lead to better answers.

It's easier to change something if you measure it. So you could start by living one week as usual, just with a pen and paper in your hand, and writing down as many interruptions as you can -- time of start, time of end, who was it, how was it (personally, e-mail, Facebook). At the end of the day, try to grade each interruption how much useful it was.

At the end of the week you should be able to identify the main sources of useless distraction. You probably can already guess it, but still the real numbers may surprise you. For example you may think that you spend 1 hour a day at Facebook, but your report shows you it's more like 7 hours a day. Or you may notice that 80% of online conversations are with the same person. Then you will know where exactly to focus.

The easiest way to resist temptation is to avoid temptation. For example if you want to limit your time on Facebook, turn off all e-mail notifications from Facebook. Then you will visit it only when you decide to. -- If Facebook sends you a lot of e-mails regardless of your settings, add an automatic rule to your mail client to mark all incoming Facebook e-mails as read (this part is very important), and put them in a special folder, where you can read them later, if you want.

Generally, treat your attention as a precious resource (because it is), and build some firewalls to protect it. -- If you are deciding whether to visit Facebook now or later, you have already lost. You win if you forget that Facebook even exists, until the moment you need it. -- Every automatic reminder is like a kick in your head; do all you can to block them all, without exception. Choose to interact only with humans, and only when they want to interact specifically with you (not when they just want to broadcast some message).

It may help if you keep a written list of your goals, and every day remind yourself that you can either work towards your goals, or get distracted; but can't have both in the same day.

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Dear Viliam, thanks for your good and long answer. What you maybe forgot is the "Non-Social-Media incuded FOMO". I cannot control if someone invites me to some event via chat messenger or calls me up to go somewhere. I can close facebook all I want, but if a friend knocks on my apartment door or I study in a public place, getting these external interferences is unavoidable! My actual question is probably more: How do I deal with that INTERNALLY (psychologically)? Assuming that I will "miss out" (i.e. not attend event X due to me being disciplined, EVEN THOUGH I AM NOT HINDERED to attend!). –  grunwald2.0 Sep 28 '12 at 7:33
    
Perhaps you could re-use some of this in offline environment too. If someone invites you to an event, go. Just make sure you write down the event, name of the person who invited you, how many time did it cost you (including travel), and how useful (that includes funny etc.) it was. At the end of month, evaluate the data. Perhaps you could save 50% of your time without losing anything valuable just by deciding to reject all invites from one specific person? –  Viliam Búr Oct 1 '12 at 9:13
    
Viliam, good idea but I'd say that view of life is a little bit "technocratic". I don't think my life will or does happen like that. And it is not so much that I need to save time or am thinking about events that only MAYBE are fun. Actually I have the opposite problem: I know precisely which events are available that I will enjoy, but I can't, because I am ALREADY too busy to attend. So my question was more: How do I deal with the "frustration" that sets in because I can't attend even though I want to? –  grunwald2.0 Oct 1 '12 at 19:22
    
Everyone sees the world from their own angle, and I am the technical guy, so yes, my advice tends to be this way. Essentially, you choose "smaller good" (because it is good, d'oh) and then you don't have time left for "greater good". The only solution is to reduce the "smaller good". Yes, it hurts. But it hurts more to miss the "greater good", doesn't it? When you are in a restaurant, there are many tasty foods, but you can only pick one. In the same way, give yourself a limit of 3 or 5 events weekly, and then pick the best ones. (Also: many events gradually get boring; try to leave sooner.) –  Viliam Búr Oct 2 '12 at 7:58

Priorities and limitations of being human would be how I'd deal with this. Consider that at any moment there are likely numerous parties happening yet given my physical form, I can only be at one at a time. Thus, I choose where I am and what I do.

Part of setting those priorities is to know what are my top values that resonate for me. Some people may value honesty and some may value loyalty though what happens if one wants to ask a friend to lie? Which value is upheld and does this vary depending on the circumstances?

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Thanks! I found a very interesting "related" question: productivity.stackexchange.com/questions/3032/… HBR says: "Make "no" your default answer. Plan on saying no to all new social network invitations, projects, and events. Say yes only if the invitation or opportunity meets a short set of criteria." –  grunwald2.0 Sep 27 '12 at 2:41

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