Kicking the Computer Addiction

So… I have a problem. I was thinking today and I realized that I am in front of my computer WAY more than I should be. This occured to me when I woke up from one of my naps and made a beeline for the computer. I then realized that I repeat this behaviour every single time I wake up!

Further, there’s no reason for me to be in front of this giant box ‘o fun. Well, right now there is because I’m writing a post, but for most of the day I DEFAULT to sitting in front of the computer. I scan through the 30 or so sites I have on my toolbar, even though most of them only update once or twice a day at most.

This is sick! Think about it – none of my interesting stories start of with “So, I sat in front of the computer all day…”. Every hour I spend in front of this thing is an hour that my life is NOT getting more interesting. I spend a lot of time online chatting with my friends, which I enjoy, but is that really the best use of my time? Probably not.

What’s worse is that it FEELS like an addiction. I’ll think “I should clean my kitchen.” and then I’ll play freecell. Freecell! As if playing freecell could possibly contribute anything valuable to my life. I routinely shirk other duties to waste time at the computer.

The weak justification I rattle around in my brain is that I use the computer to make my income. Fine. If I was using it to make money even 75% of the time I was in front of it, I would be eating gold covered diamonds onboard a submarine in the pacific.

I’ve often told people that I was going to take up smoking for a month just to quit it and prove that it was easy. But if I kick the computer addiction, that’s MUCH more meaningful, because it’s actually something I’m addicted to, rather than a contrived publicity stunt.

So what’s the plan?

I don’t really have one yet. Let’s work this out.

If I was at the computer for 2 hours a day, that would be more than enough for me to do everything I need to do. Realistically, it would be ideal for me to be monitoring it more frequently, but I’d rather start out at an extreme, and then add some time back in. So that’s easy – I’ll keep a stopwatch near the computer, reset it every day at midnight, and allow myself no more time than 2 hours per day.

The more grey area is my phone. It’s a Treo 650, which is a palm pilot and a phone all smooshed into one. Browsing the web is slow enough that I won’t waste my time, but IMing could become a problem. Actually, my IM program for it is super flaky, so maybe that won’t be a problem. Also, typing on it is somewhat annoying, so I may not be too inclined to use it.

The only exception I’m going to allow is for projects which require the computer. I have a system of 5 computers that are responsible for things in my house (lights, media, internet routing, etc), so obviously those will stay on. One project I”m going to work on is reprogramming some of my lights, which will require I use my laptop to look up stuff. As long as IM and the web browser remain closed, I’ll allow it. Oh… and Freecell will stay closed too.

Now – all that remains to do is to shut this bad boy off. I will report back on how it feels to be free of my computer addiction.

Seriously. I’m gonna do it. You dont’ have to keep reading.

Ok, fine.

Published

18 comments

  1. I have the exact same problem. I work from home administering a database. Several times a day I need to check my email at work which means I need to open a browser because the IT Director prefers that I keep my email on a Citrix server and that I use the web client. Sooooooooo once the browser is open that’s when the trouble starts! Now I have it down to only 10 sites that are in my “Good Stuff” folder on my Favorites. BTW this site is one of the 10. Having less sites that I’m allowed to check for updates helps a lot. I’m gonna try that stopwatch thing too. Great idea 🙂

  2. Hahahaha good luck on this. Will be hard to do so. I find myself addicted to the computer whenever I find an interesting new site to play with. I just kicked the habit when I stumbles upon your site after reading another site I just got addicted to (tomgreen.com) Anywho I only have 4 sites that I use the internet for so I am on much less then I use to.

  3. WHAT?! NO!

    “I spend a lot of time online chatting with my friends, which I enjoy, but is that really the best use of my time? Probably not.”

    What are you talking about?! Of COURSE it’s the best use of your time! Now what am I supposed to do all day?….. and night…. and that time in between……. Damn you Tynan, damn you to hell. I HOPE YOUR TRAFFIC HAS A GROWTH STUNT.

    Or you know… I guess I can just call you.

  4. Ok, so it’s only been a few hours and I’m back. But, it’s after midnight so I get my new 2 hours. I’m going to conserve my minutes so that I have time to write a new post this morning. Then tomorrow night I’ll write about what it’s like kicking the computer habit.

    I feel like one of those tobacco companies with their crappy PSAs “smoking is bad, don’t do it”. If people kicked their btyb habit and stopped reading and commenting I would be pissed!

  5. I think it’s so funny how people spend thousands of dollars building an awesome computer and then play solitaire and freecell. Hey I do it too, I just think it’s funny! Today was the first time in about 3 months that I played Battlefield 2 and I felt like I was wasting time, a bunch of my old gaming friends were playing but I had to quit, decided to do some article writing instead. I’d much prefer to be out doing something productive, but as long as I’m using my computer time for a project which will make money in the long run then it doesn’t bother me to spend a little time in front of the ol ‘puter screen.
    Good luck with the experiment!

  6. The computer is the best thing that happened to me EVER! I found pickup artist there, I found many friends around the world and maybe I will start making money of it. Hey do you know Pavlina or Robinss personally? The time I spend playing I just enter into my “time for playing” card. Im not giving it up…. ever. They will have to burie me with a mouse in my cold dead hands, and some g strings in the other 🙂

  7. Hey tynan…how about writing your posts without opening a browser…say in notepad… Therfore you can always keep posts and still have 2 hours.

  8. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going straight to your computer when you wake up. It stops me going back to sleep, and I need to check my Internet Empire is still functioning happily.

    The thing where I find I waste time, is that, when I’m between useful tasks on the computer, I do exactly what you describe. I get to a natural break in one useful task, and if I’m not immediately inspired to do something else useful, I default to sitting there checking news sites, forums, torrent sites.

    I’m trying to reprogram myself to get up at this stage. Perhaps I’ll add some Bookmarks/Favourites or Toolbar Links… “Go and Juice Some Fruit” or “Get Some Fresh Air” or “Tidy My Desk”

  9. Dang! This sounds rreally familiar 🙂

    I’ve been hooked to computers since I got my first own computer when I was 16 (24 now). When I started college I bought a spanking new AMD 1100 and that was it, my surfin’ habit kicked in, HARD. For you people wondering whether you’re addicted too, there’s this list you can check off.
    http://www.kudzumonthly.com/kudzu/jul01/addiction.html

    Anyways, I’ve tried spending less time staring at the box by making commitments like yours Ty. I’ve even unplugged my computer for a month and I could only use the computers at the library. That did work but I just made an excuse to plug it back in and there I was again.

    The best question to ask in this situation is “Is this the best use of my time right now?”. And also not to give using your computer any priority.

    Good luck Ty and everybody else trying to kick it.

    If you browse past 10 newssites looking for updates on them I can really recommend using RSS (Ty also offers it). In combination with an RSS reader or a customized homepage like http://www.google.com/ig you can see all the latest updates of your favorite websites in one screen. Clicking on one of the items brings you right to them. You can also have updates mailed to you by using a site like http://www.squeet.com. RSS really rocks.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Really_Simple_Syndication

    >Hey tynan…how about writing your posts without opening a >browser…say in notepad… Therfore you can always keep posts >and still have 2 hours.
    This is actually a very good idea!

  10. Thanks for all the comments…

    Magnus – I agree that that in itself isn’t a bad habit. The problem is that when you wake up 6 times a day, it adds up fast. Also, I procrastinate getting off the computer. I’m going to stick to my 2 hour limit for a while (actually, I might change it, which I will discuss in my entry tonight), but I don’t intend to stay with such a restrictive policy.

    Niels – I’ve personally never gotten into RSS. I didn’t even realize anyone used my RSS until I checked my server logs. A bunch of people use it. It’s probably a good idea, though.

  11. Tynan: I suggest you write your posts in an old-fashioned pad of paper. It doesn’t have to be complete, just write out what you want to say. It takes longer but it’s nice to get in the habit of using something non-electronic for something you’d normally use a computer to do.

    Along the same lines, play Freecell! … with a physical deck of cards. The game isn’t bad, just the computer part.

  12. You know I think extra awareness is where it’s at. I wonder if we can find a little clock that would sit in your taskbar and count the number of minutes spent in front of the computer today.

  13. I’ve been addicted, knowingly addicted to this damn machine for years. In the past ten years, I must have spent at least 2 FULL YEARS awake and sitting behind a computer.

    It’s sad, but a true addiction. I’ll be following your progress closely to see how you progress.

  14. Hey

    I think it’s a very good plan man, I am having the exact problem but I don’t play card games I play counter-strike and stuff. Anyways I want to do something other than play computer all day with my life. I want to learn new stuff, explore the world. Do interesting stuff. GET A GIRLFRIEND. So all I can say to this piece of robotic piece of |S|H|I|T| arios Amigo !!

  15. Hey my boyfriend is always on the computer playing games especially counter strike…hurr sometimes I get angry that he is constantly on his computer or working on his car…How do I get his attention..I have tried to get involved in what he does but all he does is sit in front of the computer and i just land up sitting away from him.. he isolates himself in that world and I wnat to spend time with him…what should I do…I love him very much but sometimes i just can not stand it…

  16. Oh and i have mentioned it a number of times but i just dont think things click in his head that he is ignoring me…it makes me feel like nothing when he does that.

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