OverweightManPizzaAndBeer.jpgZig Ziglar tells a story of how for 40 years of his life he chose to be fat. That's right. You see, according to Ziglar, he never accidentally ate anything.

Last year, I realized that when it comes to the internet (among other things) I was choosing to be fat. I was consuming more Internet calories than I needed and it wasn't even the good stuff. Worse yet, like junk food, the Internet -- the very tool that had enabled my high-tech lifestyle -- was distracting me from getting things done.  So, at the beginning of 2008, I decided to reduce my daily internet intake in order to improve my productivity.

What I expected to be a one-month experiment turned into a 3-month adventure and I learned a lot along the way...

With the imminent public release of a software product and my graduate studies, not to mention family, clients, and home school, I realized that I need to both increase my productivity and find more time to do the things I wanted to accomplish. A quick audit of my internet surfing habits revealed that I could recover a substantial amount of less-than-productive time simply by cutting back on my random internet surfing, particularly news or tech gadget lust sites that are so good at grabbing our attention and getting us to check back throughout the day. I decided that there was little that would happen in my profession or even in the world of such urgency that I would not hear about it sooner or later from a friend or colleague or from one of the RSS feeds I subscribe to. In other words, I decided that manage my consumption. I went on an internet diet.

Guess what? I survived. It was even easier that giving up television was almost 8 years ago. I no longer know much of anything about global warming, what's going on with Brittany Spears or who won the Academy awards. I haven't even seen the latest Apple commercial.

But I have been more productive.

And, I learned that most news and Internet surfing isn't.

I also learned that I can tap the power of the Internet via RSS feeds to allow people I respect to keep me informed of topics of interest. For example, I still read posts from James Kendrick to keep up withe mobile tech news and I read Michael's blog for all things collaboration. These and other sites keep me informed with out the fat of Internet news and mindless surfing.

I'm not planning to give up my Internet diet, however, I am planning to change my surfing habits. And, with my reclaimed time, I plan to resume blogging and even have two new blogs I hope to launch this year. What I expect to be different, much different, is how I use the Internet.

Shifting to intentional surfing

Two months into my experiment, I decided to expand my Internet diet to eliminate most mindless surfing (e.g going to YouTube or other sites, just to see what;s new and cool.) Again, I realized that I could tap the power of my social network and allow others to surf and blog about the really cool stuff while I was getting things done. Now, for the most part, I am trying to surf intentionally - meaning I know the purpose of my surfing before I open my browser.

It's made a big difference and the three month experiment has proven itself worthwhile. I conservatively estimate that I have reclaimed 30 minutes a day in actual and mental (distraction) time-savings.

What about you? Is it time for you to go on an Internet diet? What tricks have you learned to stay productive with this tool that is rapidly becoming as addictive as television?

Discussion/Comments (9):

Peter (http://blog.simoons.com): 4/9/2008 5:47:57 AM
Welcome back!

Welcome Back Eric, I already felt something must have been wrong with your RSS feed, but it was intentional (I missed that post).

Ben Poole (http://benpoole.com): 4/9/2008 5:49:16 AM
I went on an Internet diet and GAINED 30 minutes a day!

Welcome back Eric!

For me, "intentional surfing" is the key. Occasionally I allow myself to drop into what I call a "Youtube vortex", but if I'm busy or on a deadline, then I only go to specific web sites.

I also rely on news-feeds an awful lot, which really cuts out the random surfing.

Chris Miller (http://www.IdoNotes.com): 4/9/2008 7:17:53 AM
I went on an Internet diet and GAINED 30 minutes a day!

I ran a tool called RescueTime for a while to see how I really used my day. You spend a few categorizing things then it shows you some very cool outlines and charts of how you spend your time on the computer. I was able to remove a lot of things

Eric Mack (www.ica.com): 4/9/2008 1:24:13 PM
re: Welcome back!

Yup, I'm back. It's been a busy three months as Ian and I wrap up development of eProductivity. We have sim big pilot sites and thats taken a lot of our attention and focus. Glad you are still here.

Eric Mack (www.ica.com): 4/9/2008 1:25:22 PM
re: I went on an Internet diet and GAINED 30 minutes a day!

Hi Ben! yes, RSS feeds are a powerful way to stay connected while disconnected. Im increasingly disconnecting for periods of time to get things done.

Eric Mack (www.ica.com): 4/9/2008 1:26:07 PM
re: I went on an Internet diet and GAINED 30 minutes a day!

Hi Chris., I think it was RescueTime I tried a while back. That may have been what gave me the aha to realize that I could recover lost time by changing my habits... thanks.

Kyle McFarlin (http://visualstrategist.com): 4/10/2008 10:04:49 AM
I went on an Internet diet and GAINED 30 minutes a day!


Congratulations: I'm on a watermelons & coffee only internet diet and I still read your blog. Now that's gangsta.

Eric Mack (http://www.EricMackOnline.com): 4/10/2008 12:13:49 PM
Kyle, it looks like your eating more than melons & coffee...

Thanks kyle, but according to my Skype window, you're eating protein, too. { Link }

What's up with that?

Oh, I get it... { Link }

Nicolas (http://memytime.wordpress.com/): 11/17/2008 8:37:12 AM
I went on an Internet diet and GAINED 30 minutes a day!


I liked the link between getting fat and surfing the Internet too much. I fully agree that the Internet is a great tool but that it also can be a good excuse for procrastination.

I also very much respect the GTD method. On top of this I think we can all become a little bit more efficient by optimizing tasks here and there. I kept interviewing busy people and published the Time Management Master blog, where you find about 200 concrete time saving tips on how to gain an extra hour every day. These tips can be applied at home, at work or on the road.

{ Link }

Every person is different - and so are the tips. May be you find some which also work for you. Please let me know - this keeps me motivated.



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