How to Beat Internet Addiction

I pulled the plug.

It’s dead and gone.

I no longer have Internet access in my house.

Yes, I still run two Internet businesses with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, TurbulenceTraining.com and EarlytoRise.com, along with several smaller publishing businesses, like KettlebellWorkouts.com, ChallengeWorkouts.com, and InternetIndependence.com.

But I’m now doing this all without Internet access at home where I work from a small office.

Why?

Because it allows me to get more work done. Advanced results call for advanced measures and I’m embarrassed to admit that despite my ability to get a lot of work done, I was still wasting up to two hours each day on Internet-related activities. By cancelling my home Internet, I’m saving myself a couple of hours per day. Let me break it down.

It means that each day I’ll spend about twenty minutes less on Facebook and Twitter, fifteen minutes less on news sites, including ESPN.com, fifteen minutes less checking sales stats, and sixty minutes less in email with the time saved by batching all of my email reading into one or two sessions per day.

But here’s where the biggest time saving may occur. It’s an indirect benefit known as reducing transition time. That’s where you get ‘killed’ in your daily time management, as experts suggest it takes about 15 minutes to transition into a work task. Now imagine if you check your email multiple times per day when you should be working on a focused task. This transition time adds up to serious time wasted each day.

“The Internet isn’t going anywhere, but if people value calmer, more contemplative thought, they need to change the way they use the technology. The goal should be to clear considerable portions of your day for working, conversing, thinking, and playing without the mediation (or the interruption) of screen technologies,” says Nicholas Carr, author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated book, “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains”.

Carr is also a proponent of taking extensive breaks from connectivity.

“Once you start doing that – and I would emphasize that even modest cutbacks in connectivity are difficult to pull off – I think you’ll fairly quickly begin to have a better perspective on the proper role for digital media in your life,” Carr continued in his interview in Rotman Magazine.

Interestingly, of all my essays here at EarlytoRise.com since becoming the editor in July of 2011, the article on how to reduce email and my mention of canceling my Internet connection received the greatest amount of negative feedback. At first I was surprised, but then I realized what I was suggesting was tantamount to telling an alcoholic to give up drinking.

Exposing someone’s addiction is never a popular move. And the results was criticism as people defended their compulsion as a necessity. But I believe that over time many ETR readers will come to the same conclusion that I have, and will look for ways to reduce their time on the Internet and mobile phones. Carr agrees with the value in this.

“You’ll realize that we often reach for a computer or smartphone out of laziness, boredom, or habit, and that resisting that temptation can be healthy, particularly for the depth of our intellectual and social lives.”

Overall, I have increased focus and greater writing production in my work, but more importantly I feel as though I have more free time and less stress.

But someone asked, “How do you send email broadcasts?” (like this one).

The answer is…

Starbucks.

I now spend two 90-minute sessions at Starbucks each day answering email and setting up my various email newsletters to go out for my businesses. Again I’ll admit that I’m not happy with this amount of time it is taking, but with practice I should have email response and newsletter set-up time down to less than two hours per day. To do this, I simply have to create clear instructions and outsource more tasks to my assistant.

Soon everything I need to do on the Internet can AND will get done in less than 90 minutes each day so that my new daily schedule will look like this…

5-Write
7-Breakfast and dog walk
8-Exercise
10-Write
1-Lunch and dog walk
2-Write
4-Starbucks for email
5-Read my daily documents, plan the next workday, and feed the hungry little dog

Here are some of the systems in place to support this change.

1) My assistants will gather all email questions for me in a word document that I will answer once per week.

2) Assistants will set-up daily email broadcasts to go out and add daily motivation to Facebook account profiles.

3) I will do all audio and webinar recordings on one day per month when I’ve made arrangements to access the Internet.

4) I’ll use the phone for important communications. Revolutionary, I know. Also, I do not have email access on my phone. This is a critical component of controlling your email and Internet addiction.

5) I will give more responsibility to my assistants, editors, and affiliate managers in my business – all with clear, concise communication to manage expectations, of course.

To make the transition, you need to clearly communicate your plan to your team. You MUST manage their expectations. The best way to communicate with your team is through ONE itemized to-do list for each person as this avoids sending twenty emails to the same person throughout the day. Here’s the email I sent to my team when setting up my new Internet schedule.

“Hey Team Turbulence,

The following information will help reduce email overload for me and for you as well.

1) I do not have Internet in my home anymore.

2) I will be checking email daily from around 10am to 11am (EST) and from around 5-6pm (EST) ONLY.

3) If you have an emergency:

a) Matt D. you can text me
b) Lesa & Stephanie – please email Amy and she will text me
c) Ed & Dan you can email Jeff and he will get Matt Smith to text me.

4) Please minimize the number of emails you send me. You can put several topics into one email and send that summary email to me around the time I check my email (see above).

5) No need to reply to this email.

Thank you for your help on this matter,

Craig”

These steps will allow me to free up 2 hours or more per day for quality writing while reducing stress and eliminating time wasting that I do on the net.

My challenge to you is to set up your workspace and schedule to reduce Internet access Time, even if it is just 30 minutes per day.

If you can’t cancel your home Internet because your family needs it, then get your spouse to change the password each day and don’t let them tell you until you’ve completed all of your work, It will keep you offline and productive. The difference this will make will be dramatic for your productivity and for reducing stress.

NOTE: I don’t do online banking or similar activities at Starbucks. That is done at a family or friend’s house on a secure connection only.

In fact, while this new schedule has allowed me to be more productive, that benefit is far out-weighed by what I’ve experienced in lower stress levels. Knowing that the temptation of the Internet and email are a 5-minute walk away (in the cold, Canadian winter) has actually reduced my stress, rather than increasing stress.

There seems like so much more time in the day now, and even if I just spent the extra hours staring at a wall I’d be better off. An incredible burden has been lifted. I truly feel liberated from the email and Internet monster that I allowed to develop in my life.

Do what you can to fight your desire to access the Internet, check email, log-in to Facebook or Twitter, or get sucked into reading articles online.

Make today the day you finally leave a bad habit behind. Tell the habit “It’s me, not you” and kick it to the curb for good.

Draw the line, cut the cord, and free yourself.

[Ed. Note. With the time you save with these email tips, you’ll be able to work on building a second income with a website-based business using of Financial Independence Monthly, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your financial future. With your own web–based business, you can live and make money from anywhere in the world – including a coffee shop, your kitchen table, or even the beach. Discover how you can achieve the American Dream and your financial independence here. You’ve never seen anything like this before.]
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  • You know, I hadn’t really thought about it until I saw this article…but it is so true!. I quite often find myself in the middle of a project and lo and behold the next thing I am checking my email or having a look at my stats on my blog. My project totally forgotten because I have gone and clicked on a link or decided that something wasn’t right with a post on my blog….lol

  • Kris

    This is what Tim Ferris has been doing for years. It works.