Disconnect From the Internet

Pretty ironic that I am about to write a post on disconnecting from the Internet while you are reading this blog on a website, huh?  Well, I am only going to write about taking a short break each day from the Internet to boost your productivity.  Please know, however, that a long-term separation is completely possible.  Every summer, over 150 middle and high school students go without any type of technology for 6 weeks at the Kinhaven Music School, the non-profit I run with my wife.  How cool is that??  If high school kids can do it so can you for a few hours each day!

Before trying this separation out, I highly recommend tracking how much time you spend on the internet and on which sites for at least three days.  Just like creating a budget, this is a humbling experience, but increasing your awareness is key to getting anything under control in your life. Once you are aware of a habit (especially a bad one), it occupies your mind until you act on it.  Pay attention to that feeling.

There are a few tools you can use to track your internet usage:

As always, the truth hurts…and sucks in this case.  But if you are reading this blog you are ready to face the demons and make a change, so do it!
Remember to take baby steps here.  You probably already know that you spend X amount of time on Facebook and X amount on eBay, for instance.  You don’t want to deprive yourself of visiting these sites.  However, if you find that you spend 1 hour a day on Facebook, move it down to 45 minutes for one week and you have captured almost 2 hours of your life back!  You can do a lot of great things with your life with 2 hours a week….
When it is time to get some work done, we need to limit our time on the internet (unless our work is primarily internet based, of course).  We need to set limits for ourselves.  When it is time to have fun, go ahead and have fun, but I bet that after you complete this experiment that you will feel differently about what “fun on the internet” actually means to you.
The hardest thing for me to do is disconnect from the internet when I need to do work that is offline.  As I write this blog, I am offline using my favorite writing software, Ommwriter.
I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to accomplish an offline task and chosen to jump on the internet to research something or shoot someone an email quickly.    One distraction would lead to another, then I would find myself off task completely.  It’s hard to stay focused when the internet is right in front of you, begging to be used!
Disconnecting allows us to “tune out the noise”.  Here are some tips:
  • Unplug the internet for set periods of time.  That’s right:  disconnect the router.
  • Dedicate 2 hours to be completely offline each day.  If you can go for an entire day, great!  Remember my summer camp kids….6 weeks!
  • When you are doing offline work and need to jump on the net, write it down in your notebook and do it later.
  • Set a timer.
  • Do research for a project on the internet first, then turn it off.
  • Reward yourself with internet time after you complete an offline task.
I promise you that you’ll get a ton more work done this way.
Many of us are addicted to the internet.  I know that I can be.  If you take a tiny step today to limit internet, you will slowly get back a lot of your time (and thus life energy) to carry out goals that are truly important to you.  It will feel great.  I promise.


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