This is the sixth session of Ask The Coach. The main aim of this weekly session is to ask you, the reader, to ask a question to the coach by posting a comment on this post and each week myself and Ayo Olaniyan will attempt to help you by answering your questions.
This weeks coach is Steven Aitchison, owner of this blog. Next week Ayo Olaniyan will be asnwering the Ask The Coach question.
Overcoming Internet Addiction
Question from Cat answered by coach Steven Aitchison
Cat's Question in full
I have a question that has been driving me increasingly nuts of late and thought I would turn it over to wiser heads than mine.
I have a real problem with my internet usage, keeping it disciplined, focused and under my control rather than simply looking at whatever happens to catch my eye.
I've read (and applied) a lot about personal development in the past, & have made wide-ranging and permanent changes in my life as a result, but this one thing continues to slow me down and waste my precious time. I have tried numerous tactics to try and manage it, including making to-do-lists, limiting my online time, focusing on the more important things I want to achieve instead, and these appear to work maybe one and a half times before becoming ineffective.
Pondering it, I have realised that when I first started using the internet it was pure escapism from an unpleasant home situation. However, I'm no longer in that situation and currently living a dream I've had for years. I really shouldn't need that kind of escapism any longer.
Given that I seem to be unable to be a "˜man and be more disciplined' (the preferred advice of many of the blogs and books I've read), what can I do to permanently keep my internet usage under my control, rather than the opposite way round?
Thanks for writing to Ask The Coach. This is a great question and one I find very interesting.
First, of all I suspect your problem is quite common nowadays and there have already been reports about 'internet addiction disorder'. Kimberly Young, Ph.D and David Greenfield Ph.D. of the Center for Internet Behavior conducted a study with ABC News.com in 1999 and is author of Virtual Addiction.
He believes that some services available over the Internet have unique psychological properties which induce dissociation, time distortion, and instant gratification, with about 6% of individuals experiencing some significant impact on their lives. However, he says it may not best be seen as an addiction but rather as a compulsion. Greenfield claims that sex, gaming, gambling, and shopping online can produce a mood-altering effect." (Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_addiction_disorder)
Study your pattern of usage
By studying what you are doing online and the sites you visit and recording these, you will gain a better understanding of what you find stimulating about the internet.
I don't believe people can be addicted to the internet itself rather they are addicted to the stimulation they receive when they visit the sites on the internet such as chat rooms, information from blog's, news sites, shopping online, gambling, pornography, gaming etc.
I imagine there will be sites which you visit quite regularly. Take a note of all the sites you visit in a week, there will probably be hundreds so here's a quick video for you on how to do it
Now that you have all the sites you have visited. Go through the ones which you visit most frequently. Take a note of them and ask:
Why do you visit them?
What do you get out of visiting the sites?
How many hours a day do you spend on the internet?
Analyzing the data
Now that you have a gist of what sites you visit, why you visit them, and what you get out of visiting them we can begin to formulate a plan for cutting down your usage and focusing on the tasks you want to accomplish.
5 Step plan for cutting down on the internet
1. Recognise that the internet is an important hobby
It's important to tell yourself this as you may think it's a bad thing to love the internet so much. It's not a bad thing at all. Like any other hobby, people can become extremely enthusiastic about their hobby. So it is with the internet. However, you maybe becoming obsessed with it and this may be evident if it is starting to interfere with your normal day to day activities or with your social life.
2. Cut out the internet for 1 day per week
Use the internet as much as you want for six days, providing it does not interfere with family life etc. Designate 1 day per week when you are not allowed to use the internet. Remember you are allowed to use it as much as you want for 6 days but keep 1 day free where you do not use it at all, you are not allowed to turn on the computer at all.
This will achieve two things 1) It will show you how obsessive you have become with using the internet 2) It will allow you to focus on other things which need to be taken care of in your life on the designated 'non computer' day.
3. Cutting down the hours
Once you have got used to not using the internet for that 1 day per week, say for 4 – 6 weeks it's time to mix your internet with your daily tasks.
When you want to use the internet for anything, hold off using it until after completing a task you need to get done. i.e. if you have work to do in the house complete a house-work task and reward yourself by using the internet for 1 hour. In that 1 hour visit any site you like or check your email, or your stats, your earnings, whatever. After the 1 hour complete another task you need to get done and then reward yourself by using the internetagain.
This will help you compete tasks you need to get done and it will also, over the weeks, begin to cut down your internet usage.
4. Resisting the urge
After a few months of doing the above, you will be more in control of the urge to go on to the internet. Now, whenever you feel like using the internet or get the urge, do something like go for a walk, a drive, take the dog out and do it for half an hour. This way the urge wears off and you are getting something else done instead.
The reason for this is to start being the controller of your urges instead of the urges controlling you like you mentioned in your statement.
5. Start practicing discipline
Like anything else discipline of the mind can be learned and one of the best ways to discipline the mind is to practice mindful meditation. Do a simple mindful meditation like focusing on your breath for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening and your discipline will strengthen with each passing day. Before you discount the practice of this, please try it for 1 week to see the difference it will make in your life.
If this does not appeal to you do something else which requires discipline but make it part of your life. The practice of discipline will spill over into other areas of your life and you will become more focused and more task oriented. You are by no means any less of a man, as you said, it just means your discipline is less practiced.
I hope this has helped a little Cat, if you have nay more questions about this please post them on this post.
All the best
please let us know how you get on.