9 Simple Steps to Overcome Your Information Addiction 

*She stands up…clears throat…eyes burn a hole in the floor…she gets brave and looks up at the other souls staring back at her…slowly, she starts to speak…*

“Hi, my name is Kesha and I’m an information addict.”

Confession time…

Yep, I’m a recovering information addict. I didn’t know it when it was happening. I didn’t even know what it was. Even when in my gut I knew something was wrong, I couldn’t quite put a finger on my condition or how to stop it. I was already doing way too much and had started doing even MORE. 

The Symptoms of an Information Addict

What are the behaviors of an information addict, you ask? Well, at first this addiction, like any other, disguises itself as a fun, exciting, and exhilarating experience! You even get an endorphin rush when you’re consuming the digital world. So it doesn’t surprise me that addicts don’t know they have a problem!

But then…and, oh boy, this is a big THEN…life altering, time wasting, unbalanced, destructive behaviors set in.

Do the answers below sound like you could have uttered them? If so, you better keep reading…

  1. Sleep with your phone cuddled under your hand? I must!
  2. Upon waking, do you squint your eyes (because you have to adjust to the backlight) to check phone activity? But of course!
  3. Does the phone accompany you to the first bathroom run of the day? Can’t pee without it!
  4. Need a hit of email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest first thing in the morning before anything else? Yep!
  5. Every hour, do you check your traffic stats? Heck Yah!
  6. Obsessed with how many likes your Facebook post has gotten since the last time you checked (5 minutes ago)? Ummm, that’s given!
  7. Do you check 5 different online news sites every morning? If I don’t, how will I know what’s happening!
  8. Check email every 5 minutes AND answer immediately? Sure!
  9. Does TV consume you and you just can’t stop watching every single reality and network show that airs? Yep!
  10. Do you constantly text or surf on your phone all day? Uh huh!
  11. Do you ever choose to play around online instead of going out with your friends and family? Yep! And What friends?
  12. Do you spend time on your phone even though you are out with others? They ain’t talking about nothing!
  13. Would it really bother you to unplug for 24 hours? I would die!
  14. Notification whore? Yep…*sad face*

There are many other symptoms of an information addict. This is just a small list. It varies with each person.

Is It Really A Problem?

multitasking-is-a-lie

In the wake of a plethora of online activities available to us, information addiction is becoming more and more common. Some of us find it very challenging not to compulsively check our email, update our Facebook status, and similar actions. People are spending more and more time consuming and engaging in digital activities and it can have negative consequences.

It’s very easy to find a big part of your day slipping away because of these activities. << THIS is the problem!

Note: What about those whose job is to consume information, i.e. social media managers, etc.? Then it’s treated just like any other job. You get in and do your job and do it well. But just because you’re a social media manager, does that mean you have to consume information while you’re sleep and go to the bathroom with your phone? I think not…

I used to justify having a notification for every single app on my phone so that I know when things come in and can respond immediately. I wanted to respond to client emails instantly so that they’d know I’m there for them quickly; I wanted to respond to tweets to keep the conversation going in real time; I wanted to play my turn on Words With Friends so that the game wouldn’t last for weeks. Sounded good to me.

But at what expense? What am sacrificing by thinking this way? 

I soon learned that being an information addict tore me away from things I was supposed to be doing and causing me to not be fully engaged elsewhere. I found myself using wasting more of my time online and/or on TV (gotta watch my fav shows right?) but kept feeling overwhelmed that I supposedly didn’t have more time on the activities I identified as high priority.

Something’s gotta give…

How to Stop Being An Infoholic 

If you would like to change your attachment to the digital world and overcome information addiction, you’re in the right place! Even if your symptoms are a bit milder than the ones above, pay attention so that you don’t spiral out of control.

  1. Overcome Information Addiction by creating daily to do listsAssess what you’re doing. Really take a look at what’s going on. What type of distraction are you most attached to? What time of day do you feel the greatest urge to connect digitally? For a couple of days, track your digital behavior. Keep track of how many times you check your email, tweet, text, and check certain websites. You can’t tell if you’re making progress if you don’t know your starting point. During this time, there’s no need to change what you’re doing, that will come later. This is just the first phase – Assessment.
  2. Pause for the cause. Addictive behaviors don’t have a lot of thought behind them; they’re practically automatic. When you feel compelled to engage in your addictive pattern, simply stop for a moment and ask yourself, “Why do I want to do this?” Even if you go ahead and indulge in the behavior, at least you’re breaking the knee-jerk response and immediate impulses.
  3. Take breaks often. Every hour or so (don’t go more than an hour or you’ll start to experience diminishing returns), take a 10-minute break and get away from the activity. Find something else to do. Go for a walk, do a few pushups, clean your desk, make a phone call, or do some other activity. When your break is over, see how much longer you can go without reconnecting. Keep track of the time. In addition, be careful not to multitask. Use your super focus powers to do one task at a time, eliminate distractions and stop interruptions as they happen.
  4. Schedule your digital time. Try setting a schedule and stick to it. Aim for 100% adherence but know that sticking to your schedule even as low as 75% of the time is a good start.
  5. Make a list each morning. Every morning create a list of important things you need to accomplish. Complete at least one task before you get online. What I started doing was focusing on me each morning. Before I reach for my phone or go online, I do other activities first like mentally planning how I want my day to go, reciting my affirmations, drink water, etc. I feel good when I invest in myself first before getting into other people’s stuff. Earlier, I wrote about the biggest mistakes people make with to do lists, so you may wanna check that out too.
  6. Go old school. Have things scheduled that don’t involve online activities. Go to a movie or meet a friend for dinner. Play with your kids at the park. Leave your digital device in the car or turn it off. It’s kinda sad though that doing what we used to do like hanging with friends and other offline activities seem like “old school” activities.
  7. Turn off those damn notifications! I tell ya, as soon as I turned off sound notifications, I felt better about life! 🙂 No kidding, I felt free and at ease. I didn’t feel the urge to jump at each distinct sound coming from my phone and tablet. I no longer felt I had to respond to clients immediately. I learned that my time is just as valuable as theirs and I’d respond within a reasonable amount of time. Don’t worry, if something is an emergency, you’ll get a phone call, not a tweet!
  8. Cut back. Now that you’ve completed Step 1, you know where your biggest hitters are and what you need to cut back on. Step 4 had you create a schedule. Now, stick to it! Limit yourself on the number of [fill in the blank] a day. Check out this manifesto “Low-Information Diet: How to Eliminate E-Mail Overload and Triple Productivity in 24 Hours” popularized by Tim Ferriss. It has some very simple tips. I highly recommend it!
  9. (For the extreme cases) Go cold turkey. Cutting back isn’t working? Do you need more extreme help? I suggest an Information Fast or detox if you will. You might need to completely cut out activities for a little while and go through withdrawal. Then slowly reintroduce yourself back into the digital world. You may need to enlist the help of a trusted friend!

So there you go. Sounds simple but this process will definitely require work on your part. Start slowly and tack your progress over time. As long as you’re making regular, consistent progress, you’re headed in the right direction. Don’t be too hard on yourself either, but expect to be uncomfortable for a while as you develop a new pattern of behavior.

Over to you…

The Internet and all the related stuff that goes along with it can be very seductive. It’s a quick and easy way to entertain ourselves. If it becomes a troublesome issue for you, then it’s time to do something about it. Unplug a bit and you can discover more joy in your “real” life.

Now, are you ready to stand up and declare that you’re an information addict? How do you plan to replace digital distraction with action?

Wassuper, it’s yo girl, Kesha and I believe we should Be the Fruit Loop in a world full of Cheerios because life is more interesting when you dare to be different and challenge what’s “normal!” I am wildly passionate about helping highly driven women pursue fantabulous relationships, juicytastic careers/bizzes, and authentically inspired lives.

9 Simple Steps to Overcome Your Information Addiction

Must Reads:

  • Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

    OH, Kesha!
    There is a vast difference between what we consider information. Telephones- no way! Reality shows?- give me a break.
    No, those of us who are truly obsessed with information stick to real facts and figures- scientific journals, patent information, historical data…
    No ersatz materials for us devotees!

    • Hey Roy, first thank you for adding to my vocabulary (had to look up ersatz). 🙂

      Secondly, of all people, I know you have your priorities together. 🙂 It’s when obtaining information for information’s sake (another symptom) and/or the act of consuming that info deters from other goals.

      Grateful to have you stop by!

  • Kesha, you clearly have my number! LOL! I’m an addict! There, I said it. Numbers 1 and 8 are going to be my homework over the next few days.

    • Awesome Alison! I’m waiting to see who has to go through #9 (withdrawal)! 🙂

  • Am I an information addict Kesha? Not in the least…

    I’ve mentioned this several times over the last few years but I’m not a big cell phone user. I don’t have internet access nor does my phone have all the bells and whistles. I work at home, I’m on the computer all day and I only use my cell phone mostly for emergencies.

    I’m not a TV addict, I watch it late at night when everything else is finished and I only watch shows I’ve taped. I hate commercials.

    I schedule my time throughout the day and I don’t get distracted by any of the social networking sites. I have work to do and don’t have time to “chat”. Yep, I’m one serious woman although I do love to have a good time.

    I’m so old school Kesha it’s not even funny but I’m thinking about right now that it’s a very good thing.

    Good luck with you making it to the other side. 😉

    ~Adrienne

    • Adrienne, Adrienne, Adrienne, now you know you’re always the exception to the rule and I love that about you! I need to wear a bracelet that asks “What would Adrienne do?” LOL

      I’m a whole lot better than what I used to be, I tell ya. I think we talked about this before too when we were talking about using timers and prioritizing. Without that timer, I don’t know what I’d do!

      I still can’t wait to meet you one of these days. I know we’d just be laughing and having a good ol’ time – having fun the old school way!

  • I’m so temped to leave a “Gotta run check my email” comment.

    Nice job. They have identified a Facebook Addiction and this is a SERIOUS problem for some people.

    I enjoyed the post
    Regards,
    Dr. Hale

    • LOL and yes, Hale, though I was taking light of the situation, there are some people who really do need help!

      Thanks so much for stopping through and taking the time to read my response in yet another email! Haha!

  • Hi, my name is Robin J Emdon and I am an ‘Information Addict’! Today will be my 1st day…. LOL – OMG – so true Lakesha!

    I think you have correctly identified the problem and many of the solutions! I must admit – I hate all those ‘notification’ thingies! It’s so demand driven and takes no account of how it might affect you focus, concentration and productivity in other areas of your life! Thanks for the heads up! ~Robin~

    • LOL Heeeey Robin and welcome to the IAA (Information Addictions Anonymous)!

      Focus – you hit it on the head!! As soon as you hear a notification, you go see what it is and then you gotta make a decision whether to be interrupted and handle it (esp if it requires action) or get back to what you’re doing. BUT, and this is a big but!, it takes time to get back at the task at hand so you lose valuable time in being interrupted and lose productivity.

      My gosh I’m glad I turned those off for the most part! 🙂

      Here’s to using our time for more focus and concentration and only checking on those distractions during breaks!

  • Great question. I am not sure if I am or not. I am more or less always working, or reading or watching or listening to something. But, I am more addicted to stories and entertainment, and I really love watching movies, TV-shows, and reading books (and short stories).

    I don’t have any problems going offline for a while. I am usually offline 4-5 weeks during the summer, when I’m living in a tent, but I don’t stop reading (and writing) 🙂

    • Hey Jens, it can be a fine line for those of us who work online too! It’s a problem only when it gets out of control and zaps our focus, energy, and productivity. However, it sounds like you have things under control! And I personally know this because I see the results of your work (through your newsletters and other content you create).

      Sounds like we’re alike in that I like my TV shows too and am mostly found reading or listening to something (especially my fiction!).

      So glad that you can go offline for a while. You don’t know how many times someone has said to me they’d feel lost without an Internet connection!

      Grateful that you stopped by and I look forward to your creations this year!

  • that’s a very important topic because this bad habit can result in a lot of sadness and disappointment, i remember when i used to invest money in the stock market i used to check the share’s price every few minutes and this made me feel really bad sometimes

    • Hey Farouk! Ahhh, the old stock price checking. Yeah, I can see that too. It can be nerve wrecking! Hopefully now you have someone else who can handle that for you or you’ve found a way to not check it so often. 🙂

  • This is ME all day long! I can fill up a 500gb computer with meaningless downloads, pdf, free videos, worksheets, Demo’s, Kindle Books…. ANYTHING in a matter of weeks! I have actually done this!

    It’s bad… real bad! I feel like the earlier commentor Robin… Like there needs to be a support group for this sort of thing. lol

    • Now you know I could have already guessed that you’d have a bunch of stuff on your hard drive (me too though for real)! You should let me take a look inside yours and see what else I can “borrow.” LOL

      I guess I better gone head and get this support group started eh! 🙂

  • Hi Kesha

    I am somewhere between you and Adrienne. Well probably more like you as I definitely take me iPhone everywhere.
    I do not watch much television or check news sites much. I am a bit addicted to social media and am not comfortable if I go a day away from email.

    I am working on not checking email so frequently, that is my worst habit.

    I have been evaluating my time just like you and getting way more focused.

    An important post thanks Kesha.

    Sue

    • Hey Sue! So it sounds like email is an issue for you. I highly recommend the resource I included in the post from Tim, Eliminate E-Mail Overload and Triple Productivity in 24 Hours…I bet that will totally help you! Let me know your thoughts too once you read it. 🙂

  • Hi Kesha,

    Well, as a freelance writer, and blogger I have no choice but to be an information addict. However, I don’t think I should call it that way, because I do it more by necessity, not pleasure, and NO, I do not sleep with my phone. I am completely oblivious of cells phones and never understood the hook that people have on them.

    I love new technology, it’s amazing to have information about anything and everything at our finger tips and it has changed the way we learn and look for information, but I don’t move around with the internet. My phone doesn’t have internet. When I’m away from my desk I want to be away from the internet and take a breather!

    • Hey Sylviane! Yes, technology is amazing and like anything that’s done excessively, it can turn into a problem for a lot of people.

      Like you, with what we do, I have to be online all the time too. I had to figure out a way to manage my time so that I was the most effective at my work and that meant going through those steps myself first!

      So you don’t know what hooks people with cell phones? Girl, if I sat you in a room with people who had to have their phones, you’d be cracking up! LOL

      I like that last part you said too about taking a breather. It’s a must!

      Thank you for your feedback chica!

  • Hi Kesha. This article is right on time. I saw a program on TV right about around the first of this year that talked about New Year resolutions. Did you know that one of the most popular was ‘cut back on social media.’ I found that fascinating and also a little weird because I don’t have that problem although I do get wonkey when I can’t check email…but then again there are days where I might go a week without checking it. Guess I’m not too bad uh? 🙂 There are people who are definitely in this spot and you’ve done a great job at telling people how they can help themselves!

    • Woooow, I did not know that! Social media is now becoming a resolution? Who’d a thunk it! LOL

      Nope, it doesn’t sound like you’re bad at all. Keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂

      Yeah, I do hope those who recognize that they may be out of control take these steps seriously. I basically went through them myself just to make sure I was managing my time well. My time is too precious to waste on activities that are not producing the results I want in life.

      Grateful that you stopped by Barbara!

  • ::: squirms in chair:::

    yes, yes, my phone is glued to my hand! I’m on Twitter and Facebook all day, I check my email all night! I keep having to buy new chargers because the ones I sleep with get frayed and broken.

    There are times I know it has to STOP. So I leave my phone in the kitchen when I go to bed and don’t look at it. Or I shut my computer down so I can’t check that one more thing…

    During the day I have a time tracker that I use to clock into whatever activity I’m doing so if I’m strict about that I lose a lot less time.

    “Get off line” is great advice because when i want to get things done I shut the browser, and just do what I need to do. o social, not reading one more blog, no email. And SOUND!! yes, turn it off! it’s amazing how Pavlovian that sound makes you. one ding from your phone and you;re off to the races.

    What a timely topic, and so hard to fight!

    • Ahhh, those little tricks we have to do with ourselves right. You have me bugging up! 🙂

      And I use a timer as well. I like to know where my time is going so I can adjust as needed (just like I like to know where my money is going so I can change it up if I find myself spending too much)!

      So it sounds like all you need to do is get offline a bit more often and take some breathers.

      Take two breathers and call me in the morning. LOL

  • OMG Lakesha I just finished a blog on the same topic, but here you have taken it to a higher level.

    One of my pet peeves is that people always carry their phones with them. Parents on the playground, texting while driving, answering ever beep….
    This keeps you hooked in! Turn off those damn notifications as you say!

    Also, so many people waste their time on the social media platform. It can become an addiction. It is a problem.

    We need to use our connections, but need to be disciplined and consistent.
    By that I mean, Scheduling our time on social sites three times per day. It is quite easy to do, with a timer to remind ourselves, or the other methods.

    I have coached some people who are info addicts. They never got their business off the ground because to me, they were hiding behind information and never took that step out of the box to apply it.

    You have written great solutions to the problem.

    Donna

    • THIS >> disciplined and consistent << YES! I'm not advocating that people not use the awesomeness of the digital resources that are available to us but it takes discipline to make it effective so that we're in essence not just killing our time on this earth away on things that don't ultimately matter so that we can live life fully! So thankful for your feedback Donna!

  • Keesha, I was a computer addict before there was such a thing. When I realized this, I got off the computer. Now I have to be here for work, but I don’t like being on the computer all day. I do use my smart phone more for emails than for a phone, but I use it to signal that I got an email and I check on the computer several times a day. This was a cool article, because I remembered the old days.

    • Ahhh, so, Ann, you were an old school addict. 🙂 LOL

      It can be a sticky and fine line type of subject with people but I think there are people in this world who may have a serious issue with this type of thing. I hope that even though I was taking light of the situation at times, this does help someone realize ways to cut back a bit. 🙂

  • Well, I am certainly a lot better than I used to be, Kesha. That’s for sure! 😀 However, I still have my work cut out for me. I’ve been working on a better system for myself; one that allows me to promote, interact, engage, and be productive – all at the same time. It’s a lot more difficult than one might think. We’ll see how my new scheldule works out for me. I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Wish me luck! 😉

    • Me and you both D! I know exactly what you mean! I want to help and support so many others but I’ve had to realize I can’t do it all (at least not all at once) so I have to divide my time between things I want and like to do a lot (interact, have fun, chit chat, play games, etc.) and things I must do (create an income to sustain me!).

      Yes, please keep me updated on your progress as you may have some good stuff/results we can share with others!

      P.S. You don’t need luck; you got this! 😉

  • Hi Keesha,

    Wow! That’s a lot of information. I don’t like phones so none of those are issues for me. I would be happy to go without TV, although do I have a few shows that I love and follow closely. I love netflix because I can watch on my schedule.

    A couple months ago we ended up going a couple weeks without the internet. That was a trip! I was surprised at how little I missed it, actually. Although I was busily editing my book so that explains what I did with all of my ‘free’ time!

    I’ve been unsubscribing from a ton of mailing lists, turning off notifications left and right, and staying away from the sites that cause me the most troubles. (Pinterest and my FB feed) That helps a lot.

    Some of the most productive people out there say they only check email 2-3 times a day. I’m not at that point, but I am in the habit of closing that tab for a while so that I’m not tempted to check as often.

    Take care!
    Stacy

    • You are on a roll Stacy! You have to do those things to stay sane sometimes. And I’m glad you didn’t freak out about not having the Internet. LOL

      Yeah, checking email once or twice a day sounds cool but I’m not there either. I do close the email tab too so that I won’t be tempted to take a peek at what’s come in (in the last 5 minutes since I checked it!). 3 times a day is my goal first…then maybe I’ll get to twice a day. That sounds reasonable to me. 🙂

      We’ll get there… lol

  • oh I am a total addict in need of help! I said yes to most all of the above questions… As a novelist though, I must engage daily. It’s one of those activites that can’t be stopped if I want to continue my line of work… But, that isn’t to say I can’t set up some ground rules to get it under a bit of control.

    • You said it Suzie – setting ground rules so that you get more writing done, make MORE money, and THEN have more time to do these types of activities (because hopefully you’ll be able to hire assistants to take some work off your hands) so that you can play more. 😉

  • Yes, I’m definitely addicted to Facebook. But I’m going to take your advice and turn it off for 10 minutes. I wonder how I’ll go? Not happy already.

    • LOL So how’s it been going so far Madonna? I’m curious to hear your results. 🙂

  • This is an article great! Information is like food, if you eat junk non-stop, you’ll die an early death and have regrets. It is good to have information about things but ignoring essential things and loading yourself with too much of data is hazardous. I enjoyed reading all the points on ways to stop being an Infoholic. I have certain set for myself – Checking web stats including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace only once per day and checking email only twice per day. Controlling yourself is the biggest thing here.

  • Oh, my goodness 4, 5, 6, 7, and 14 is me! Ok, I am no longer in denial. I used to get a lot more done till the advent of FB, et all. I am going to put into effect some of your solutions. On the real, I had so much to learn in so many areas that I felt I had to immerse myself. Kind of like when you watch all these webinars on how to do this better or get more of this, etc. After a while you realize most to that stuff is the same stuff with slight variance and you learn how to pick the information that is new to YOU and not just listen for listening sake.

    Great article!

    • Giiirrrrlll, YES! Me and you both have suffered from “information gathering,” “information overload” and “analysis paralysis”….now it’s time to bring it on back down to earth and do something with the info.

      My task these days is to learn from something and immediately implement it before trying to move on to something else. That in itself is a huge productivity enhancement AND helps to not waste time on things we don’t necessarily need right then!

  • LMAO! This was great. I am 2, 3, 4 and 8. When I read number 3, I about fell over laughing because it always comes to the bathroom. Ha Ha..I know TMI, but you asked. LOL. I had a hard time unplugging when I first started blogging consistently my first year. Since then I have learned to unplug and just turn my phone off at night so I can concentrate on family time.

    When I went on vacation last year I didn’t have access to the phone for 4 days, well….kinda, but I was on a boat and didn’t have much coverage anyway. It was nice to not think about tweets, facebook or anything else and just enjoy myself. I think we have to pace ourselves and carve out times so do social media if its for work, business or play time. When it starts getting in the way of things that matter, than there is a problem.

    • Ahhh, re: “When it starts getting in the way of things that matter, than there is a problem…” << THAT'S the ticket! YES Sonia! And I found that I was just doing too much - trying to be on every social network; trying to focus on multiple things at a time; and whatever else I felt I needed to enhance my online presence but it got to be too much and I was really forced to take a seat and re-evaluate what the heck I was doing! Now, I take it a day at a time and am in implementation mode more so than information mode. 🙂 P.S. I DID ask so not TMI lol

  • Rich

    Hi Kesha, love this post, so relevant for most people today, including me! I was guilty of most things, then my phone contract expired so I thougth instead of getting the latest all new shiny and epensive iPhone, Sony xperia Z, HTC One, which were my choices, I chose to go back to my old Sony Ericsson from about 5 years ago….don’t laugh!! But it’s so liberating. It hasn’t got internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It’s just a phone and text, so no need to keep looking at the phone every second now. Its great!
    Just found your website, thougth I’d comment as the post made sense to me!
    Keep up the good work! Thanks!

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