A Productivity Experiment: Limiting My Online Hours

By Daniel Scocco

I don’t know about you, but every time my access to the Internet is limited, I become more productive. For example, currently I need to write 50 pages of content for a small project, and I had been procrastinating on it for over a week. Then yesterday my Internet connection died virtually the whole day, and as a consequence I managed to write around 10 pages. How come? There was nothing else to do!

And the curious thing is that I consider myself to be quite disciplined. Yet when I have free access to the web I tend to disperse my attention.

That is why I decided to run a small experiment for the month of August. I will limit my online time to two hours per day. The rest of the time I will physically unplug my ethernet cable.

On those two hours I will clean my email inbox, publish the daily post, and carry out any other task that requires access to the web. The rest of my work time I will spend writing content and working on business related matters.

By the end of August I will let you guys know how the experiment turned out.



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54 Responses to “A Productivity Experiment: Limiting My Online Hours”

  • JFo

    I read an article (in the Atlantic) which said there are programs you can download which limit your internet access for however long you want – so you can make sure you work continuously for an hour or two without checking email etc. Does anyone know of any examples of this? I’d love to buy one.

  • Training Connection

    My laptop broke down recently and I never realized how much I now depend on my PC. Truly, I think we all could use a breather but I need my life support!

    I completely understand how the internet can just burn up quality time as well. Let me know how your experiment goes!

  • Dana Sullivan

    Excellent idea. I think I’ll use a timer of some sort. Just shut down my browsers.

  • Kerenne Jessop

    That is so true! There are so many distractions online, such as social networking sites, messengers, etc. when you are trying to work. Based on my own experience, disconnecting from the internet truly works to help you be more focused on what you have to do on the computer without going online. Just check emails maybe, go offline, and work. Then when the job is done, you can reward yourself and surf the net.

  • vegas

    You should read ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferris – It gives some pretty good productivity tips

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Ben Moreno, I feel that physically unplugging the cable safer 🙂

  • Aron Parker

    I am the same way! I need to do an experiment like this as well. Very interested to see how this goes for you.

  • Arun Basil Lal

    Daniel,

    In my part of the country, Internet access is a previlege. So I find myself offline many times a month and those are the days I come up with long original articles. Internet is too distractive by itself, esp. Twitter.

    Good luck.

  • Cory

    I’m really interested in reading about your results at the end of August. Intuitively, it makes sense that you’ll be more productive since you’re theoretically going to be more focused on your tasks at-hand. However, intuition and theory aren’t always correct.

    Anyway, if you find your productivity increases during this experiment I’ll give it a go myself.

  • Ching Ya

    Coincidentally that’s what I’m going to do in the next 10 minutes: be ready to be wireless-LESS by switching off the router once and for all. I got too many distractions (mostly my fault) whenever an email alert or networking app notification is beeping, couldn’t help just to take a peek that ends up me being on it for hours. =P

    Where do you think I got in here from? — Email alert for Daily Blog Tips latest post. lol.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging

  • Sparky

    Being a beginner in the blog world i spend so much time researching how to build a better blog.I am always thinking I’ll get to my work in a while.I probably should do the same and unplug the cable but then I would find a software program I need to learn a little better.
    OK I’ll write out “discipline”1000 times.

  • sociolingo

    I have to agree with you. I had come to much the same conclusion recently. I have papers to review and I am spending far too much time online justifying to myself why I spend the time! meanwhile the review paper sits there with a baleful look waiting for me to give it time. Am I brave enough to join you? Perhaps ….

  • Kat Gordon

    Here’s my prediction: you will be so wildly successful this next month that you will stay on your Internet diet the rest of your life. I’m convinced that the frantic tweeting everyone’s doing kills the possibility of any mental momentum beyond a 3-minute span. Ditto for your cell phone, your iPod, and any other device that creates visual or audio input. All my best ideas happen in the shower, while driving, or when playing tennis — away from technology. Can’t wait to follow your experiment.

  • Josh H

    That is a good idea. I think i will follow you as well!

  • Ben Moreno

    Daniel,

    You know you can set your router to limit the amount of time it stays connected to the internet right?

    Who knows, maybe it just might make you more productive 🙂

  • Steve

    You sure you’re not just going on vacation or somethin…? haha jk. There’s no way I would be able to do this experiment – my job depends on it.

    Anyways, good luck!

  • Diane L. Harris

    Daniel,

    I’m going to do this experiment with you. Keeping up with email accounts, facebook, Twitter, and multiple other social networking sites is definitely cutting down on my productivity.

  • odtaa

    Certainly the most productive person I knew, she was a professor, wrote numerous research papers and managed 500 staff and about 6,00 students – well she would only look at emails at the end of the day.

    She’d only reply to something that was important as she didn’t want to encourage endless replies.

    OK she did have a secretary and if there was anything real important fire, queen visiting, just been given a grant for several million then she could be contacted on her private cell phone, which only her secretary and a few friends knew.

    This gave her lots of time to work with people developing projects etc.

    If you got an email from her – you knew it was important.

  • LuAnn

    Congrats on a great goal/decision! I may be pretty much off the grid next week, which would be good from the kids-not-here-can-actually-get-something-done p.o.v., but that will probably be offset by the OMG-I’ve-got-no-access reality.

  • Tom Bradshaw

    I can see this being useful from a content writers point of view, having that distraction taken could probably be good thing. A lot of my work involves design and development so only having internet access for 2 hours a day brings me out in a cold sweat!

    Good luck with your internet detox plan!

  • Alex

    what a great Idea!

    I guess that’s the reason why the writers of The 18th – 19th century were so productive…they were unplugged : )

    Alex.

  • Hesham

    This is a very good experiment, I would love to know the results!
    Good luck!

  • Jacques

    Great idea. I was just thinking doing the same but with my TV time. I tend to get home in the evening and just wasted from the days work. I enjoy relaxing in front of the tv but was wondering what would happen if for 1 week I just record my favorite programs and then do other stuff. I mean I can still watch the recording a week later. Think I will join you in this but with my TV time

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