I’ll get right to the technique: no Internet before breakfast.
Let me explain.
I’m an early riser. I’m in bed by 10 and I’m up around 5. I use these early hours to get a power start to the day by getting a substantial chunk of a freelance writing project done before I eat breakfast around 7:30.
The Problem: The Internet
I typically do a quick e-mail check when I first get to my laptop. And then, try as I might to stop myself, I’ll also spend about 5 minutes to:
- Check the weather forecast
- Look at the stock market futures
- See if there’s any really big news
Then I get to work. But frequently I’m tempted to check my e-mail again to see if anything truly important has come in, and sometimes I give in to that temptation.
Distractions = Multi-tasking = Decreased productivity. Even though I usually don’t give in to the temptation, the thought itself is a distraction.
The Solution: No Internet
First the backstory. I moved from a rural area near Mount Shasta, California to Ashland, Oregon two weeks ago, which meant I went from being a country mouse to a town mouse.
Which meant I finally had to use those security settings on my wireless router so neighbors wouldn’t drain all my bandwidth.
Which meant spending an hour fooling around with my wireless router trying to figure out how to set up a network and make it secure.
The result: everybody else can see my wireless connection and use it if they have the password, but for some strange reason I can’t even see the connection.
So… I have Internet only when I physically connect the modem to my laptop, and that’s only when I’m upstairs in my office.
And now to the solution: I work downstairs in the kitchen in the morning, just me, my laptop, my work project, and my coffee. And no Internet.
I get a lot of work done in those two hours. I feel very good about my progress, and that good feeling carries into the rest of my day, meaning I accomplish more in all the important areas of my life.
I also have spent several afternoons working downstairs Internet-free with the same high level of productivity.
I’ll Be Saying More About Avoiding Internet Distractions Soon
Avoiding distractions, especially from the Internet, is a key concern of mine, and I’ve made major progress in this area. I strongly urge everyone to read Nicholas Carr’s insightful book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, which details how Internet usage changes the structure of our brains and decreases our cognitive function.
How much does the Internet interfere with your work? What techniques do you use to keep yourself focused on your writing or other projects? Share with us…