Results of the “2 Internet Hours Per Day” Experiment

By Daniel Scocco

Early in August I wrote a post announcing that I would try a little productivity experiment during that month. That is, I wanted to limit my Internet time to two hours per day. Once those two hours were consumed I would unplug my ethernet cable and work offline the rest of the day.

Well, the month is over and as promised I will share the results with you guys.

Did it work? Yes and no.

Yes it worked for the first two weeks. During that time I was still writing my ebook, so I could put all my offline hours into good use. Pretty much all the content on the ebook was coming from my head, so I just needed the word processor to get it going.

I also noticed that my online distractions were reduced to zero during those two weeks. I only had two hours of Internet per day, so when I plugged my cable I needed to make sure that all the vital tasks would get done. This included uploading posts that I had already written to the blogs, moderating comments, answering to emails and carrying out any required maintenance on my websites.

Usually the two hours were just enough to get it all done, so I would be left with no time to chat on IM, watch YouTube videos or browse around social bookmarking sites.

The problems started appearing on the third week, once I had finished writing my ebook. I still had a lot of content to create for my websites, but most of it required research, collecting links and the like, so it could hardly be produced offline.

So gradually I started spending more time plugged every day, and by the end of August I was already leaving my Internet connection on all day long.

I still think that unplugging can boost your productivity a lot, and I will probably do it again in the future, but you need to do it when you have a project at hand that can be completed offline (e.g., writing a book, coding a software or designing something).

The rest of times you pretty much need to have an Internet connection on. Online distractions can obviously be a problem, but the solution is probably called discipline.

Did any of you guys tried to unplug to increase your productivity? How did it work for you?




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22 Responses to “Results of the “2 Internet Hours Per Day” Experiment”

  • Web Marketing Tips

    Well this one will need lot of patience but if you have interesting task in your hand than this will be all win win situation for you. Otherwise your hand will go to wire and will plug in.

    Yes if internet is on than there is lot of distraction … like from one link to another link … from one photo to another photo … from one video to another and so on …

    I will do it if I will have some interesting task for off line.

  • Sohail

    i think it can be more productive to make a routine and follow it. 2 hours in my opinion is less time to write posts, search for next one and stuff but making it 4 hours can work and give you plenty of time to work offline or do anything other than sitting on computer. It is always a good idea to restrict your time on PC.

  • Stefan / intuitiv

    Hi,

    cutting the cable is a possibility for really concentrating on what I am doing. In my opinion it depends on what I am working on.
    Like you described in your experiences at the end of the testing timeframe.

    My wife and me did another cut of technology. We defined a – so-called – screen-off-evening, one evening every week.
    No computer, no smartphone, no television, nothing will be switched on with a screen on it. We cut technology for some time.
    These are very thoughtful evenings.

    Stefan
    (Author of the german book on how to use twitter: “TwitterSweet – 140 Zeichen für den Geschäftsalltag” – Amazon, 14,95 EUR)

  • Blake @ Props Blog

    I have two built in functions that keep my internet time down daily: Wife and Son. I find that when I have to balance my time with them around, I am more productive and less prone to distractions, but when I have free time, I tend to get stuck on Twitter or following an endless catacomb of links on a dozen different popular blogs. It would be interesting to just unplug and work offline as opposed to just not being on the computer.

    Blake

  • excITingIP.com

    There is a natural down time in our place: 2 hours of power cut! Since I don’t use UPS, I have started re-reading books in that time. Sometimes, the reading books (Mostly non-fiction) goes on beyond power cut time! and I am glad 🙂 It helps to have a good offline hobby 😉

    excITingIP.com

  • NYC Vagabond

    I’m running a similar experiment right now, though I’m being a bit more commando about it. Each day I work in a different public place in NYC, whether wifi-enabled or not. So far, so good. I feel as if I’m getting more work done and I’m getting out and seeing the world more. The key to making this work has been to always try to put myself in a position where either wifi isn’t available or where I don’t have a laptop to make use of it when it is present. That means writing in a moleskine much of the time. Of course, you can’t stay disconnected forever. Still, I find that when it comes to ‘think time’, being disconnected is the only way to go.

  • LetUpdate

    I may consider this way to write my own ebook.

  • Chester

    This works for me provided that all the materials are given. There’s a lot of distraction when you’re online. I say I become more productive when working “disconnected”.

  • Graham

    Sometimes I have to visit customers that have bad mobile reception and no WLAN hotspots nearby. If I have to kill time between appointments, I download my research in advance and write blog posts off-line, or even catch up on some podcasts.

    If I’m flying, then I don’t even try to work out which electronic devices I am allowed to use – I just take a book with me!

    (I might write a review of the book later, though 🙂 )

  • mark harrison

    Great idea Daniel and one that I have sort of implemented now that I am doing more business online.

    I work from 8.30 am until 1pm every day, including Sunday as I only have Saturday completely away from the PC. However, I use my netbook in the evenings for no longer than 2 hours, to do all my research such as keyword research, competitor tracking, article reading, SEO techniques, etc as I find my netbook fiddly to type on for any length of time but great for browsing and learning.

  • Igor Kheifets – IgorHelpsYouSucceed

    Unplugging is useful when you have offline work to do, that’s true. But often times, I find myself in need of the internet even to do my offline work. So, it is rather challenging for me to unplug myself from the “life force” 🙂

    Igor

  • George Serradinho

    Wow, only 2 hours a day. Thats not a lot at all. I could possibly do half my stuff in 2 hours. Like you said, sometimes we need to be online to do research for a topic/post/series/etc.

    Now and then I tell myself to take a break and not go online, that could be for a day or maybe even longer. It depends on what needs to be done and what has been scheduled.

  • Alejandro Garcia

    This post has gave me the motivation to manage both my writing and Internet. I think starting on Monday I will do this, 4 hours of offline work. I will use this as my experiment and write my progress on my blog. Discipline is the key and I know I need it at times.

  • Satish Gandham

    There are times when i dont have internet, and i had to use it at my friends or relatives place.
    In the few min i have, i quickly finish checking mails, moderate comments and write some quick replies and there is my addication STATS. I’m 200% productive in that few minutes. For the rest of the day i feel like i have lot of time.

    What am i doing all the 10 to 12 hours when im having internet??
    I keep refreshing my inbox to check if there is a mail, scroll through the gtalk friends list repeatedly, check the stats again and again although im sure that there wouldnt be much change.

    I WASTE 70% of MY TIME sitting before my lappy doing nothing, I think i need to plan my time better and stay away from internet when its not absolutely needed.

  • Master101

    You are right! I need to do that sometime. Well i might. I have this project in my head I need to get it done. Making another website, blog, and ebook. With all online distraction, I can’t seems to start nor finish.

    Discipline. Yeah, I guess that’s the only key.

  • Pink Ink

    What a great idea. I can see why it would be so hard, however, unless another person limits your internet use. That cable is so easy to plub back in…

    I limit my kids’ time on the computer (20 minutes per week!) and that works pretty well. What I need is my mother! LOL

  • Judith

    The bottom line is this is all about discipline! You have to be organized and disciplined enough to prioritize what needs to be done and by when.

    IMing, chatting, viewing videos and “distractions” are everywhere — on and off-line. Those who succeed have the discipline to ensure that the most vital and important tasks are accomplished before we allow ourselves to be distracted. I know — easier to type than do! 😉

  • Liane YoungBlogger

    I don’t need an experiment to limit my internet hours. Reminding myself of academic school stuffs is usually enough to disconnect the internet.

  • Boerne Search

    I try and judge my time by the life of my battery. If I can’t get something productive done in that time then it’s just time to move on.

    Kane

  • Dave Doolin

    I’ve done things like this off and on.

    My experience is same as yours: some things you can do without being on the net, like keeping book (grab the statements first), editing from print outs… a nice way to spend some time on the beach, or no computer stuff at all.

    Basic research these days has to be online though. And that can be a bummer.

    I don’t suffer much from distractions like twitter or facebook.

  • Monevator

    Daniel you’re a literate person so you may relate — the thing that the Internet has killed for me is reading books.

    I went through one of those ‘top 100 books of all time’ lists the other day and I’d read about 60 of them!

    But of those, maybe 50 I read over a decade ago.

    Productivity isn’t everything — there’s even worse the Internet is doing to us.

  • George Thistle

    I’d love to try something like that. But as you say, the nature of some things (especially research) just means that it’s not possible. I’d imagine if you had set tasks to do though, that it could be very productive and probably gives you more spare time

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