I had two motivations to reduce my recreational Internet usage 30 days ago. First, it was a waste of time. Second, it was a distraction.
Both were important motivations. Time waste is obvious, but distraction is important as well. You might check your phone only ten times a day for a minute. That would add up to ten minutes a day, which might not seem to be a lot.
But every time you check your phone, you lose your concentration. If it takes ten minutes to concentrate again, you might be losing at least one and a half hour in lost concentration.
If something you saw on Facebook or on a news site keeps your mind busy, then that’s lost time as well. So, I recommend auditing your Internet usage and reducing it if necessary.
First, I want to review what my usage and target levels were for each item. I will also review if I was successful or not. Then I will review the lessons I learned from this experiment.
If you don’t want to read the details of my Internet usage, you can skip to My Conclusions section below. I report it here to give you an idea about how you can approach a similar experiment.
- 30 days ago: Checking my private email whenever I felt bored.
- Target: Check once a day.
- Result: Success
Bitcoin and Stock Market Prices
- 30 days ago: Checking them whenever I felt bored.
- Target: Come up with a weekly game plan. Check the prices once a day. Execute an action if required by the game plan.
- Result: Weekly game plan and passive orders are implemented. Now, I check these less than once a day.
- 30 days ago: Mostly during the lunch.
- Target: Once a day. Check the notifications and engage with my blog readers. Check the main page for three page scrolls maximum.
- Result: Even better than the target. I check the notifications and engage with my blog readers once a day. I don’t check the rest.
- 30 days ago: Mostly during the lunch.
- Target: Not necessary at all.
- Result: Success.
- 30 days ago: This is an ego thing. I check how many people subscribed to, read, and clicked on the links of my email newsletters.
- Target: Check once a week, because I send my newsletter once a week anyway. So, I’ll remove the app from smartphone right away.
- Result: I completely stopped checking these results and other statistics, with only one exception. That is to write a post about 8 Lessons I Learned from My Medium Stats.
- 30 days ago: I follow only four people. They don’t post often. I don’t use it that often. This is not a big problem at this moment.
- Target: Once a day. This is not a real problem, as I follow only four people at the moment. Actually, I’m going to remove the app from my smartphone right away.
- Result: Removed the app. I don’t check it at all. I don’t feel the need at all.
- 30 days ago: I didn’t even check once a day.
- Target: Once a day to see if my posts are shared. If so, engage with the people.
- Result: I didn’t check once a day and I’m fine with it. This is so weird, as before starting my blog, Facebook was such a big part of my daily routine. I was spending almost half an hour on it every day. I’m glad I’ve let go of this habit. It doesn’t even pop up in my mind right now.
Bing, Bing News
- 30 days ago: Checking their homepage for the daily image and news.
- Target: I like the images on their homepage. Once a day is OK. I’ll switch off their news and don’t check them anymore. News are complete distraction without any added value to me.
- Result: Success.
- 30 days ago: While working out in the gym.
- Target: Continue with this habit. Nothing to listen at all would bore the hell out of me.
- Result: I gave up this habit as well. I listened to just one podcast lately. Maybe, if I come across something useful, I might listen, but most of the time, I don’t want to consume any content at all when working out in the gym. I just want to rest my mind. Lifting weights is a great way to shut down your mind. I use earplugs to filter out the loud music to the extent possible.
- 30 days ago: Classical music and relaxing playlists are OK, but sometimes, I switch to pop music to cheer things up at work, but then those songs keep playing in my mind for the rest of the day.
- Target: Get rid of all upbeat popular music. That’s sad, but it’s too distracting. Classical music, relaxing music, relaxing acoustic pop and rock is OK.
- Result: Success. But now, I’m thinking of letting go of some acoustic music is as well, because some of it is too good to ignore, Ed Sheeran for example.
- 30 days ago: Sometimes, when I’m bored, I enter a funny query and check the Google Images.
- Target: Not at all. Complete distraction.
- Result: In the first three weeks, this was a success, but then I slid into this habit again.
- 30 days ago: Mostly during meals and cardio. Unfortunately, sometimes, when I feel down and don’t feel like doing something else.
- Target: Add informational videos to Watch Later. Watch only the videos in the Watch Later. Watching during cardio or doing home maintenance is OK. Use the timer if watching while eating, because I tend to keep watching after the meal is finished. I’ll remove the app from my smartphone right away.
- Result: The nature of this problem changed. Now, I started to watch a comedy channel. I feel like it’s distracting me and it doesn’t serve me. But I don’t waste too much time on it. I usually do this when preparing meals and other manual tasks. But this is going to be an object of my next 30 days experiment.
A lot of my daily Internet usage was just habitual. I neither felt the need nor benefited from it in any shape or form.
I was able to let go of some websites and apps just by questioning their use and becoming aware of their uselessness.
Sometimes, it was just enough to remove the app from my smartphone to not check it again, as it was in Instagram’s case.
As I said in my blog post, How Long Does It Take to Let Go, you don’t need to wait for 21 days to let go of a habit or belief.
Sometimes, just realizing the uselessness of a habit or belief is sufficient to let it go instantly.
No distraction in your smartphone or the Internet is going to make any significant change in your life.
Just realizing that fact was sufficient for me to let go of a lot of distractions.
The Effects of Caffeine
I realized that most of my Internet usage was just a response to stress. Where did the stress come from? I believe the majority of it came from my coffee consumption.
Drinking coffee causes a stress response in body and mind. A little bit of stimulation might be helpful to increase concentration. Anything more than the optimal amount causes too much stress.
Last month, the store where I do my grocery shopping stopped carrying my favorite brand, which was enough incentive to reduce my coffee consumption significantly.
As a result, I felt more peaceful. Now, I don’t need constant distraction. On the contrary, I just want peace of mind and don’t want any distractions at all.
Lifting weights in the gym is a prime example of that. Back in the day, I found it unbearable to not have any distraction in between the sets. Now, I find the distraction in between the sets unbearable and I use it as an opportunity to rest my mind and relax.
I don’t say doing this or that is good or bad for you. I just experiment with things and see what works the best for me and report it here.
Focusing on Productivity
A part of my daily Internet usage was checking how well my posts and email newsletters did. I realized that checking those stats often doesn’t have any benefits to my writing.
What does benefit my writing? Writing. It’s simple as that.
Sure, once in a while, it could be interesting to check my stats and learn my lessons from them, but that frequency is not every day. It’s not even every week.
I must also admit that as my Medium profile is gathering more and more views and followers. It’s even becoming harder to keep track all of that. That already gives me sufficient satisfaction and I don’t feel the need to check my stats.
Moreover, I started using Steemit as well. My Steemit usage feels productive to me at the moment. With my day job, blog, and Steemit, my productive time fills so much of my day, that I don’t even have the time distract myself with Internet.
Sometimes, I even use my meal times to write a comment or post. I know that’s not the healthiest thing to do, but I just give it as an example to explain that I don’t have much time or motivation for recreational Internet usage.
I find entertainment mostly a waste of time. I feel good mostly when I work on a challenging task and get it done.
Watching a comedy channel feels good at the moment, but it doesn’t give the same satisfaction as getting a challenging task done.
There’s an idea that entertainment is a necessary part of life. I don’t reject that idea completely. It’s about how much time and mental bandwidth I’m going to allocate to entertainment.
With millions of entertaining videos on YouTube, this is a slippery slope. I won’t set the intention to quit YouTube altogether at this momen, but I will be mindful about my YouTube usage.
I know that that wasn’t a measurable goal, but I feel like I could trust myself with this at this moment.
Some of my Internet usage is just habitual and I was able to quit it by realizing how useless it was or just by removing the app from my phone.
A good deal of my Internet usage was a stress response. I could let go of it just by reducing my coffee consumption, as that was a significant cause of my stress.
Probably the most important cause of reducing my recreational Internet usage was focusing on my productivity. When I was focused on productivity and getting things done, other distractions had less of an appeal.
Entertainment is an important part of my recreational Internet usage. I will probably reduce this, but don’t commit to eliminating it entirely, because it isn’t a great problem at this moment.
I will review this post 30 days later. If something significant happens by then, I will write another follow-up. In either case, it’s very interesting to commit to a 30 days experiment and review the results 30 days later. Highly recommended.
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly roundup of my latest posts.