Tips To Break Your Online Addiction: Read A Book

by Randy Murray on September 27, 2011

As much as I am enamored of my Mac, my iPad, and my iPhone, I love books more. I can literally read all day. That, for me, is a terrific vacation day (along with an occasional swim in the ocean, some eating and drinking, and time with my loved ones).

Reading a book can also be a great way to break your online addiction.

Here’s what to do:

First, set up your reading queue. You must always have at least six books lined up and ready to go. You can re-sort them, and add to them, but make sure you always have something to read. Never leave the house without something to read.

Make it a mix of books. Include non-fiction, business, science, and yes, novels and short stories. Make sure that they are books that you are really interested in. If you “assign” yourself reading, things that you’re not really interested in, you’ll avoid it and not end up reading after all.

Plan a time, every day, to read. During this time you will silence your phone, step away from your computer, and only read. I’d recommend at least an hour a day, but make it a minimum of thirty minutes. Just read. Don’t stop and check your email or Twitter. If you are reading on your portable device, don’t switch out during your reading time to check other apps. Just read.

Preferably, use a physical, printed book. If you’re reading, in part, to break your digital addiction, using a digital device to do your reading is a short step away from sliding right back into bad habits. I’m a fan of eBooks, but I’m still surrounded by print, by paper. And I like it.

There’s so much to be gained from reading, but you can also use it as a tool to help you spend less time online. And if what you’re doing online is primarily reading and looking at things, it’s relatively easy to redirect that into reading a book.


What am I reading today? Among other things, I’m reading 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare. It’s terrific.


More Tips To Break Your Online Addiction.

Tips To Break Your Online Addiction: Read A Book by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle September 27, 2011 at 9:53 am

The last few books I’ve read have been on Kindle and I was surprised at how pleasant reading on a device, even my phone, can be. I was even more surprised when I checked a book out of the library and read it in one sitting.

The convince of e-books is undeniable, but sitting down to read a real book is an experience that screens just can’t replace.

Only kind of related to your post :)


Randy Murray September 27, 2011 at 9:59 am

It’s still to the point. Reading a book, either in paper or on a device, is a specific cognitive experience. I think that’s what counts.

But if you find yourself distracted and using the device to do things other than read the book, it’s not serving you.


Ady Coles September 27, 2011 at 11:01 am

I wholeheartedly agree. For me it’s the emersion factor – I find that, when I’m reading a book (and it usually has to be a printed book) I get so ‘into it’ that I can’t be disturbed; it gives me a solid amount of time not doing other things, and that really helps to recharge my system.
I don’t get that same level of emersion in an eBook, but perhaps that’s because, on a tablet or phone, you are in a position to be distracted (by emails, push notifications, etc.)


Randy Murray September 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Exactly. People, like me, get lost, immersed, in the online world. Simply change the thing you want to get immersed in and you’ve broken free.


Vincent September 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm

You’re right but I would add something for students. When you’re a student, you always have something to read. The point is sometimes you have time to read something at the wrong occasion : the place is loudy or you’re just too tired to focus on a complex book.

For those situations, I always have something to read. It could be a magazine, or some kind of compilation of short essays. What is important to me is that you can fragment your reading : stop in a beautiful park, sit on a bench and read a text of 10 or 20 pages. This is a really short reading but it’s a good way to break your online distractions : those few minutes you spent reading an article or a thought, you didn’t lost them surfing the Internet.

As a student, this works really well for me as a zen ritual. Oh and once again, sorry for my english. ;-)


Randy Murray September 27, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Thanks, Vincent.

I remember my student days well – especially as a graduate student studying playwrighting. I literally had stacks of things to read, plays, history, theory.

And I’d also treat myself by having a stock of novels to help break things up and keep my mind fresh.


Mari September 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm

The promise of reentering the world in my novel du jour is exactly what I need to tear me away from online reading in the evening. I could read all day…and all night. My nightstand remains loaded with books. Currently enjoying Jeannette Walls’ Half Broke Horses.


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