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!

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  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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    1. 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!

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  4. 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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    1. 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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  5. “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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    1. 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!

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  6. 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!

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    1. 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

        1. 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

          1. Oh, I see, silly me. Well, I found this post by just browsing through your blog. 🙂 Well done to you for finishing your novel! I am trying to write a book myself, but haven’t got much time at all…

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