How to Unplug 4 Hours – It works!

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I bet you’re addicted. Come on. Admit it. How many times an hour do you check stats, emails, social media or text messages? Is it hard to unplug? How long do you procrastinate before settling down to do real work?

Although I have found my passion in writing and always meet deadlines, I recognized my addiction to the endorphin rush of the internet. Reading blog posts, watching views roll in (or sputter) after blogging or checking comments on my latest Facebook photo had sucked me into the spinning vortex. Even though I start writing around 9:00 AM each day, I felt as if a party was going on and I was missing out. I had become a victim of FOMO. Sometimes, I would stand and stretch at the end of the day, wondering where the time went.

A few months ago, I read an article by Adam Green who is a travel writer for Vogue Magazine. He lamented about missing deadlines and then faced the ultimate humiliation. He found out his office presented  a departing colleague with a mock Vogue cover. The headline read, “Adam Green Meets a Deadline.” His name had become synonymous with procrastination. Bummer.

He jumped at the opportunity to do an article on overcoming procrastination. After a Skype interview with self-help guru, Mark McGuinness, he made a plan. Adam made lists of work to be done and checked them off as he went and he used the program Freedom to block the internet for four hours a day. The structure really helped, but he still found himself researching instead of the doing the hard work of writing the piece. Mark suggested that he set a timer and write for twenty-five minutes straight. If he wanted, he could reset the timer.

After reading the article, I had an AHA moment. I don’t ever have a problem motivating to write, but I take too many breaks. Because I like to research while writing, Freedom wouldn’t work for me.

unplug4hours

I started #unplug4hours on Twitter. Once Tweeted, it became a public announcement of my commitment. When I clicked back to the internet by force of habit, I gasped as if being caught in a lie and clicked off again. Did anyone see me? Embarrassed, I hunkered down to work again.

Sometimes, I wrote for more than four hours. Other days, I wrote for a couple, but I’d keep the internet turned off and would use the rest of the time for research, to work on blog posts, or to throw in a occasional load of laundry. After four hours, I would get my internet fix while eating lunch, then I’d settle down again to write for another block of time. Pretty soon it became a habit, a good habit.

Do you have a project which is taking forever to complete? Does it feel strange to be outdoors without your phone in your pocket or hand? Do you recognize your family members?

Join me on Twitter @susielindau and #unplug4hours. If you don’t have a Twitter account, then announce it on Facebook or Instagram and ask others to join you. It really works!

You can download Mark’s free e-book, Time Management for Creative PeopleHERE.

Top image credit – Blue16Media.com 

Do you check the internet during the day?

79 thoughts on “How to Unplug 4 Hours – It works!

    • Welcome Lovelygirl! It works for me, especially on days like this when I blog. I won’t stop back to see who comments until later this afternoon and I’ll check a few more writing projects and chores off my list!

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  1. I wonder what happened to us all that we can’t stay off our devices. Is it because they’re new? Is it a passing fad? How will the next generation manage it, since they’re growing up in the immersion?

    I actually enjoy being mostly off of social media. Leaves more time to do things I enjoy, while too much plugged-in makes it seem like a chore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great to “see” you Guapo! You have unplugged most of the summer. 🙂

      I think it’s simple addiction to endorphins. I love making connections with people online through comments on my blog, etc. But there’s the inherent danger of missing out on the the life happening around us.
      It can feel like a chore, for sure.

      For me, checking the internet was too tempting since I was already on the computer. Now I carve out at least 4 hours a day for solid writing.
      It’s been working!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I travelled around Central and South America for 9 months I did so without a mobile phone. My productivity shot through the roof! Now I’m back in the rat race, I miss those extra hours.

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    • Isn’t it crazy here in the States? When we traveled in Europe last year, no one was attached to their phones. As soon as we got into an American airport, almost everyone had phones out and either checked data, played games, texted or talked.
      Thanks for weighing in, Aiden!

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  3. Sounds like a great idea. On a personal level I unplug pretty much every day. I handle social media for clients and have their accounts on all the time so that I can keep them up to date. I often forget to check my own stuff. My big problem is blog reading. It is an addiction. I always feel obligated to catch up if I miss posts from bloggers. My own blog suffers because of this.

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    • That is so true! I spend a lot of time reading blogs every morning and evening. I had to cut back to finish editing my book. I know how much time it takes to write them, so I try to return the favor… 🙂

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  4. I de-activated my Facebook account last week and I’m trying in different ways to limit the rest of my internet exposure. I’m also going back to reading more books in hard copy format rather than on my Kindle. I’m also trying to get my teenage boys to try to live without their phones for an hour or two a day. So far, all I’ve got from them is a shoulder shrug in response to my efforts, but I’m going to keep trying. I really think more people need to consider how technology is changing their lives and not for the better and take a stand against it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree wholeheartedly. I wonder how this next generation is going to interact socially when so many haven’t communicated except on phones. Pretty scary thought!
      Good for you being the hammer! My kids are in their twenties and just made it out of high school before phone internet use blew up. As a parent, that was a huge blessing.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Kingmidget!

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  5. Our children, roughly the age of yours, think it’s funny — not in the ha ha sense — that after severely restricting their TV time when they were little, they rarely see us without a screen at least within reach. We are puddles in Google’s hands. I too have had to resort to setting an alarm to write, for an hour a day (the alarm on the iPhone, of course). It’s way too easy to check a little this or that, even for that puny hour. Signed up for a retreat this fall in a place without cell or Internet service, but that’ s not a long term solution, so … 4 hours??? Um. Maybe. Every day???? Not counting non- writing time, like while exercising, or at the grocery store right? Aieee.
    Okay.

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    • I unplug for 4 hours, but stay unplugged even if I only write for 2. That’s when I’ll get some other computer or housework done. Yah, you can go the store. The idea is to stay unplugged. It feels good to be off it for a few hours. It’s a great break! Try it Julie!

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  6. When we went on vacation for 10 days a couple years ago, I did so without internet. I felt so free and wide open to whatever life had to offer instead of being tethered to a screen. And you’re right – I get much more written when I deliberately stay offline. I think the internet has its claws sunk in our lives, and I’m not sure what to do about it…

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    • It was hard for me until I started announcing it on Twitter. I was always checking for an email, a comment to come in, or to check on stats. It is far more relaxing and I’m more productive when I’m unplugged. Our trip to Europe was pretty much without internet. Europeans aren’t addicted like us. I see it getting much worse, before it gets better. As humans, we liked being entertained!

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  7. I stopped participating on an online bulletin board a few months ago, but I spend too much time on Facebook. This summer, one of the places we visited had no internet service and I bought a tablet that can connect to a cell phone signal, so I could keep up on emails. Having a limited amount of data meant not watching all those videos on FB, and less time online in general. It was nice (no tv either). Since we have good weather here in WA this time of year, I tend to want to get things done outside and around the house. Easy to just leave the phone on the dining room table. Harder during the rainy winters to disconnect.

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  8. I actually am addicted and have found the four-hour routine the only way to get things done. One hour AM = WP, Mail, Twitter, internet. Four hours writing assignment. I hour PM = WP, mail, internet Twitter. After dinner = reading + 45 min TV

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  9. Well let me begin by saying that I did not see the Pinterest logo in that jumble at the top of this post. Does that mean I can stay connected to Pinterest?

    No? Whatever.

    I’m pretty disciplined so when I’m writing or working on a project, I have no problem ignoring cyber world. And since my internet access at home is hit and miss at best, I’m just used to not being connected when I’m home. That makes it easier.

    Good for you for hunkering down.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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    • That works to your advantage! Here I am on an island in Michigan and the first thing I did was turn on my computer to answer comments. Gah!
      I have been unplugged all week and have gotten a ton done. I even worked on the plane! Thanks Patricia!

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  10. The Internet is not a distraction for me, Susie. It’s having to spend fifty hours of my life a week at The Grind. I’m often just too tired to write at the end of a day. Since returning from California, where I was almost completely offline, I went back to work and it’s been taking me forever to catch up on my blog reading. But, I just move at my own pace.

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  11. I stepped back from everything but WP last year….Refreshing and freedom….but as you even reading and keeping up with friend’s blogs eats up productive time. (so I’m constantly behind reading, but try to stop by and see everyone.)
    I write blog posts/research uninterruptedly without problems, but post for ideas are annoyingly demanding and it’s easy to get dragged back in to posting too often….working on that…there is other stuff to do…
    You are a serious writer and do need to block out uninterrupted time. Hope you can maintain the habit!
    (My way of handling husband’s tech. addiction is to go someplace where there is no cell coverage or internet….getting more difficult to find.)

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    • I know what you mean! I am on on island and we have internet service! Wow! So here I am catching up.
      I had to cut back on everything to finish projects. I felt guilty at first, but realized everyone will be here when I finish up!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Ha! This is a good one. I know a lot of people who are totally addicted to their phones and sending text messages and the Facebook stuff or Internet stuff. Dude crazy. I don’t have a problem unplugging for multiple hours but … when it comes to TV well, that might be a problem 🙂

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    • I have weaned myself off TV, but the Internet was sucking me in during the day especially after I blog. I’m on vacation this weekend and have been waiting for an email, so I’ve found myself checking my phone. GAH! Otherwise, I have been unplugged. It’s always something….

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  13. Much as I enjoy social media, I do have to run it by scheduling time, usually. I have days where I don’t touch it. I also don’t have a Facebook app on my phone, and won’t. Partly because I think Facebook’s attitude to privacy sucks and I don’t want their app digging its way through my phone. But it’s also a time management thing.

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  14. This is a great idea, Susie!
    The other day I walked to the grocery store and accidentally forgot my phone. It was startling at first, kind of naked feeling, but then it felt freeing!
    This might turn out to be the same…I’m going to try it!

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  15. I would love to do this but I think my head would explode!

    Hope you have a terrific Labor Day weekend! Enjoy and have some fun. Sorry I have not been around in a while as I have had some family matters to attend to recently.

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  16. There’s definitely something to this. I’ve noticed over the last few years that my productivity is way down from what it was, and while I used to write and draw during the evening, nowadays I spend most of them online (I tell myself it’s for research purposes).

    I think I might start to unplug a bit more. I remember a few years ago when my computer conked out and I spent a week offline I was almost nostalgic for the pre-internet age. Of course that didn’t stop me binging on YouTube as soon as I got a new one!

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  17. I didn’t struggle with this in the past, but I do now. A couple of years ago, I worked remotely for a company that freaked out if they couldn’t immediately reach me via email any time they wanted. I got into the habit of checking my email every 15 minutes. It was hugely disruptive, and created a bad habit that I’m still working on breaking. Good habits are much harder to form than they are to destroy.

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    • This works for me! I don’t always have to use #unplug4hours to get uninterrupted work done, but on days like this, when I blog, I’ll announce it on Twitter. It’s amazing how much work I accomplish!
      Great to “see” you!

      Like

  18. I work my internet-checking time around my kids, just like I work my writing around my kids, just like I work everything around my kids! I’m good as long as I make myself a to-do list every day and check things off as I go. Keeps me on track and makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something, no matter how small it is!

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    • I think that to-do list is paramount. It’s so easy to let time slip away! I am amazed you get so much done while raising kids. The summer both of mine were home, when I first started blogging, was CRAZY!!! I put in a lot of strange hours.

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  19. “do you recognize your family members” *slaps knee*

    There was a night a couple months ago when my internet went out for a day and a half and I remember moaning and complaining about how I was going to have to go to a cafe that evening instead of being at home and then I had this lightbulb moment and realized I could actually just stay home and NOT be online. Kind of sad and hilarious and weird.

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    • You did it!!!!
      Unplugging seems like it will be so isolating, but it’s amazing how much work I get done without distraction. Afterward, I socialize online for an hour and then go outside and play in the real world!

      Like

  20. I know, tell me about it!! Now that they have moved my desk so my manager can see what I am actually up to, I came to realise how addicted I am to procrastinating. 😦

    Anyway, I really like your blog and am a new follower (found you through Blogging 201 by the way). You are warmly invited to visit mine and maybe follow it back. See it in 201!

    Like

    • Nice to meet you, Angie! I’ll check out your blog. 🙂
      I’m having a blog hop next Wednesday where you can meet my friends.
      The Internet can be a total time suck. I’m planning on participating in NaNoWriMo so I’ll be using the #unplug4hours technique once again!

      Liked by 1 person

        • I found your comment on Unplug 4 hours. It was about announcing on Twitter with a # that I would be offline for 4 hours while I got some real work done.
          I’ve gotten several hits on this post, today. How did you find it? Just curious. 🙂
          NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It is a month-long challenge to write the first draft – 50,000 words. I finished my first novel and am querying agents, so I thought I would use the month to write the second one in the series.

          Liked by 1 person

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