View Full Version : GTD strategies for tackling general internet-based addictions
12-09-2007, 04:29 PM
I love GTD's emphasis on reducing the unconscious resistance inherent in the "dumb" part of our brains to get things done.
I have addictions to both pornography and checking news, and I wanted to get input on whether others have successfully used GTD-based strategies or the concept of reducing unconscious resistance to get over these addictions.
Let's keep the topic focused on how GTD and concepts related to it can help me, and not talk about the morality or reach of these addictions. :eek:
12-10-2007, 02:46 AM
The Internet is an easy loop to slip into; it's endlessly novel, it doesn't require any thinking, and it's right there on your desk.
I suspect that you're on the right track. It's not that there's something magical about the Internet, but you are showing resistance to cranking through your Next Actions list which is manifesting as you blanking it out and doing something else.
In my case, I'm a low-tech GTDer so I keep hand-written next action lists at my desk. It's absolutely crucial that these are well-defined, physical next actions of the form "verb the noun with the other noun" for me to take them on. If there's any ambiguity, if there's any stuff left to process there's a risk I'll take the path of least resistance and procrastinate (usually Net-based).
Clearly, you're feeling that you should be spending your time elsewhere or you'd be happy with your current situation rather than seeking help. I'd suggest some long, hard thought about what "elsewhere" might mean to you, and breaking it down into clearly specified outcomes (i.e. projects) and in turn breaking those down into next actions. Finally, keep those lists of actions within reach of your computer to give yourself the maximum opportunity to get inspired to get off the Net.
12-10-2007, 03:24 AM
That's a really good question, and not that easy to solve in my experience. There are many, many techniques out there for breaking habits, and each one works for different people. (That there are so many resources should tell us something!) The only way to find out is to try something. Here are a few resources:
Top 20 Motivation Hacks - An Overview
How to Quit a Bad Habit by Answering Four Power Questions
Habit Building: Laying The Foundations
18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick
Installing a new habit and breaking an old one
12-10-2007, 05:55 AM
From the man himself...
12-10-2007, 08:33 AM
Oooof. This one hit close to home; I've struggled with both of these in the past. Still do.
This has helped me:
1) It's a gradual process. Expect slow, uneven progress.
2) Track your progress. I draw a small mark on my calendar every time I go on the 'net for porn. I feel much more motivated when I see marks far apart.
3) Success comes from multiple sources. One tip or trick will help, but it won't work all the time, long-term (even though it feels like it will).
A few successful things for me:
a) I consciously limit the time I spend on my computer. I only allow myself to do a very few things (email, RSS feeds, and one blog). I don't follow links.
b) I spent a few minutes meditating on this problem, and realized that I needed to redirect myself. So I thought about porn, frex, and then redirected my thoughts to desiring another, more positive activity (book reading, in this case). It was purely mechanical and conscious. But it gave me a model, so when I think about porn or skimming for news now, I can redirect myself to a more positive pursuit.
I've benefitted from repeating that exercise, hammering the pattern further into my brain.
c) I've started up a bunch of fun creative hobbies. Practicing the guitar, writing, reading Greek classics, baking...there's always something for me to do instead.
Best of luck with this. It's one of the hardest things to break. I read of one guy who successfully fought a number of addictions--including crack cocaine--and said that internet pornography was by far the hardest.
12-10-2007, 09:03 PM
Thanks for your honesty. I have struggled with porn.
GTD has helped; in particular as I am more organized and feel in control more often. Porn for me is usually about feeling powerless or bored and needing to medicate those emotions.
It might help to stay aware of what you are feeling: powerless; bored; frustrated; angry; lonely; etc. Once you identify these emotions then take it a step further and determine what you is making you feel this way.
Turn the energy you would use to look at porn into positive energy improving your GTD system. This in turn will help you feel in control, and lessen the desire to look at porn.
Working on your higher levels of life, above the runway stuff (the news, daily tasks) and being proactive about your longer term goals may bring your level of excitement up and find a legitimate expression that you need. Especially as you acheive some exciting goals.
I also had my computer tech guru install a filter.
Thanks for bringing it up. I never made the connection until you mentioned it.