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It’s not just procrastination. I’m also an internet addict, info-tainment junkie, whatever you want to call it. Even on weekends when I have nothing stressful to do, I’m drawn to the email, the Facebook, the blogs.

I’ve been focusing on my procrastinating tendencies, and I’ve been half-successful. At this point, my biggest barrier to success is my constant need for web-borne entertainment and screen-mediated social interactions.

Hypothesis: It’s not just procrastination. In order to make progress on my work habits, I need to address internet addiction.

Is “Internet Addiction” real?

Instant gratification. The web is an unending parade of funny pictures and videos, jokes, shocking headlines, and quips from your 200 closest friends. All of which provide a little squirt of dopamine from the pleasure centres of our brains. I’m addicted to a hormonal “drug” produced by my own body. Tweets and web comics are my pushers.

Internet addiction has been shown to produce physical changes in the brain. “It has been theorized that these changes reflect learning-type cognitive optimizations for using computers more efficiently, but also impair short-term memory and decision-making abilities — including ones which may contribute to the desire to stay online instead of be in the real world.” –Wikipedia.

How do you break a psychological addiction like this?

Stealing ideas from how people quit smoking: Cold Turkey. Restriction/Weaning.
One friend of mine takes 30-day breaks from Facebook.

“Corrective strategies include: content-control software, counseling, and cognitive behavioural therapy.” –Wikipedia.

Here’s what I will try first.

1. I’m re-activating Nanny For Google Chrome, an extension that I can set up to block certain sites for certain times of day. No more lost mornings on Facebook.

2. When I need a break from work, I will leave my computer and re-join the real world. A 20-minute walk is much better for my brain than 20 cat videos.

Along with my semi-successful anti-procrastination measures, I hope that directly targetting internet time-wasting will help me to become the person I want to be.

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4 Comments

  1. A comment that I received by email:

    “On the way home, I heard a news report outlining studies that had been conducted confirming that internet – social media sites in particular – are addictive. The concluded that the need to check social status updates and information on the web was not only as addictive as other typical forms of addiction, but that in some cases it was harder to resist the urge to get online than to prevent oneself from having another drink!

    They also said that it wasn’t just the social media sites, but also for those who “needed to stay on top of work.”

    So you’re not alone and it is real.

    Is it possible to work time for it into your day rather than “stealing it” from other activities? What about as a reward or that doesn’t work?”

    • Thanks for your thoughts. Since receiving this, I’ve done a bit more looking around on the web, and there does seem to be a lot written about internet addition. There’s a lot of debate as to whether it qualifies as an addition or a compulsion, a new psychological disorder or a new twist on an old one. But nobody denies that, for some people, the internet is associated with harmful behaviour that individuals have difficulty stopping.

      To the question of whether I could allow restricted brackets of time for surfing: yes I could, and that would be a solution of the time-management or work-habits variety. Broadly speaking that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the past 2-3 years, with only limited success. Sometimes my “20-minute Facebook” break goes on for 2 hours or more. So the purpose of this post was to propose that I can’t make any more progress on beating procrastination until I also address internet addiction. In other words, I need more than just work-habits strategies, I need addiction-management strategies.

      That’s the hypothesis, anyway. Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about addiction. I’ve never even had to quit smoking. Time to do some research!

  2. Hi Johnny

    discovered your site whilst doing a google search for the ‘Now Habit’. I liked your explanation of it and how it was working so well for you the first 4 weeks you tried it, then you kinda fell off the wagon so to speak. I am going to buy the book and implement the system (that you also describe very well in your article). I am going to make a goal of sticking with it for 90 days (even when I don’t feel like doing it) so it becomes a habitual way for me to stay on task and focusded. Wish me luck 🙂

    • Hi Linda, thanks for your post, sorry I didn’t notice it earlier. Best of luck with The NOW Habit! Please do drop by again and let us know how it’s going for you.
      The NOW Habit was a big break-through for me, but It’s true that it has only lead to limited success in becoming a productive person again. To be honest, I’m not really following 100% of the advice in the book. The only thing that I’ve stuck with has been the Unschedule and using a timer. I should read the book again.
      I had some good results after this post about internet addiction. I cut off my access to Facebook and my other “play” sites, and really got a lot done. For about a week. Then I started sliding. Now I’m re-reading this post and re-committing to the tactic. This is why I started a blog on the subject 😉


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