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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Killing Home Internet Is the Most Productive Thing I’ve Ever Done

Earlier this year I made the conscious decision to remove all Internet service from my home. It ended up being the best productivity decision I’ve ever made.

I was not content with the time I was wasting—I felt I could do more purposeful things with my time than spend it on the Internet.

This doesn’t mean I think the Internet is evil, bad, or wrong—it’s not. The Internet is an amazing tool, one that changed my life for the better.

But you run a popular website, how could you possibly go without Internet service at home?

My answer is easy: I plan my Internet use. I don’t do so in a regimented way—it’s not like I say, “OK, I’ll be on Twitter from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. next Thursday.” If I see something I want to research on the Internet, I write it down and use that list when I have Internet access.

Now I’m forced to leave the house to access the Internet. I’ll go to the office, the library, the coffee shop, or some other place with free public Wi-Fi, and I’ll grab a cup of coffee or something to eat and work on all the stuff I need to do online (publish writing, check email, read blogs, get on goofy websites, etc.). Additionally, because I’m out of the house and there are people around, I meet new people.

But you’re a writer, Joshua, and that’s why it made sense for you! I need the Internet for homework/work-work/Netflix/online dating/online gaming/updating my Facebook status/playing Farmville/surfing eBay for shit I don’t need/stalking my high school boyfriend/etc./etc.

You probably don’t, and maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself.

I was able to reclaim the time I once wasted. No longer am I taking unconscious breaks from my life to watch YouTube videos, movie trailers, or to look at funny pictures on some random site.

Now when I’m on the Internet, it has a purpose—it is a tool I use to enhance my life. Sure, sometimes I log on to watch some funny videos or laugh at memes, but I go to the Internet with the intention of doing these things.

Whenever I’m on the Internet now, I use it in a deliberate way, in a way that benefits me and my life, a way that adds value.

When I got rid of the Internet at home, I did it mostly so I could focus on writing without distractions—but I found so many extra benefits since I got rid of the Internet:

My time at home is more peaceful now, as if my home is a sanctuary.

I have more time to read.
I have more time to write.
I have more time to think.
I have more time for friends.
I have more time to exercise.
I have more time to walk.
I am less distracted.
I am less stressed.
My thoughts are clearer and less fragmented.
I no longer crave the Internet like I once did.
My mind is more focused on important things.
I don’t have a monthly Internet bill.

Here are some of my tips to help you use the Internet in a deliberate, more productive way (this is what I do): Check email no more than once a day. Keep a list of what you want to do on the Internet (watch videos, listen to songs, stuff you want to read, etc.). Subscribe to your favorite websites and blogs via email, so they come directly to your inbox. Give yourself one or two hours per week to just goof-off on the Internet (make it a treat, like that piece of candy).

That’s great for you, Joshua, but I could never do it!

Don’t kill your Internet, then, but consider this:

Embark on a 30-day trial. Take your modem and get it out of the house—take it to work, take it to a friend’s house, or do whatever you need to do get it out of the house for 30 days—just make sure you don’t have access to it.

You will hate it at first. You’ll want to get online to do something stupid and you won’t be able to. Then you’ll want to get online to do something “important,” but you won’t be able to do that, either. It’s like quitting smoking: you’ll have a craving to get online, and it will take a while to get rid of that craving (that’s why I recommend at least 30 days).

You will be frustrated at first—very, very frustrated at times—but you will live, and your life will be better without it: you will be able to do more worthwhile things, and you will remove some of the discontent from your life. If not, you can always go back.

What do you have to lose? Better yet—what do you have to gain?

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