If you think you don’t have enough time for a side business or a hobby, this article is for you. In this article, I’ll cover one of the main strategies I used when I started Habitgrowth as a side business. When I first read about this strategy in The 4-hour Work Week, the mega-best-seller written by Tim Ferriss, I decided that I needed to implement it as well.

My Media Diet: Cutting the Cord

Cutting the cord

How many hours a day do we spend on our phones, surfing the net, or watching TV?  Admit this, too: how much of that activity is just procrastination? And if we’re truly honest, how valuable is the information on the news anyway? As entrepreneurs, we have deadlines, projects, emails, and a deluge of daily activities.  Without the proper time management techniques, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and, rather than getting started on anything, be side-tracked and start on nothing.  It’s amazing how many other chores and tasks suddenly take priority when you are faced with a daunting project filled with uncertainty.

I knew I needed to free up time for my side business and decided to go on a Media Diet.  I wasn’t sure this was going to work for me, I felt that I would be woefully “out of the loop” if I didn’t get my daily fix of TV news, trending online topics, and latest memes.  Still, I needed to try.  So I simply quit most media cold-turkey.

  • I no longer read the newspaper anymore, online or offline, unless someone specifically refers me to an important topic or event.
  • I no longer listen to the radio in my car.  I listen exclusively to podcasts and audiobooks instead.
  • I don’t watch the news on TV anymore.
  • I don’t watch live TV shows either; I record them or choose on-demand so that I can fast-forward through the constant, highly irritating ads. (or skip them altogether with Netflix)
  • I don’t allow myself to binge on YouTube, no matter how cute the kittens are. (though I admit this is often still a challenge for me).

Media Diet:  Unplugging

Why don’t you try an experiment?  Spend one week keeping an honest account of how much of your time you spend online internet browsing, YouTubing, and Facebooking on things unrelated to your business.  If you work from home, chances are you may keep a TV on “for company” or as background noise for your working day.  Keep track of how many times you find yourself more interested in the TV than your work.

Value of TV news

Let’s be honest: how valuable is the news anyway? Unless you’re a reporter or a politician, do you really need to keep up with all current events? Aside from all the negativity that you poison yourself with, what do you actually gain?

It’s a cycle, isn’t it?  Watching TV can lead to Facebook or Twitter postings, which lead to more Facebook and Twitter activities.  Somewhere along the line, you may find yourself in the black hole of YouTube.  Once you get sucked into that vortex, you aren’t coming back out any time soon.

Here are a few ideas for unplugging:

  • Put your phone out of reach. If you have to go out of your way to reach your phone, you will have time to think twice before picking it up and engaging in distracting behaviours.
  • Keep your work media interactions confined to allotted times.
  • Record shows you’d like to watch so you can fast forward through the commercials. An hour-long TV show is, in reality, only 45 minutes long.  The other fifteen minutes are, you guessed it, commercial breaks.
  • Commit to not using your computer or phone for anything non-work-related during your work day.
  • If you’re guilty of using a TV or radio for background noise while working, flip the switch…to “off.” Not only will you be able to focus on your work, but you will also save a little money on electric bills as well. Use a tool like brain.fm on your computer instead and I promise you’ll be instantly more productive.

My Media Diet:  The Verdict

I’ve been on my media diet for over a year by now, and honestly, I am not planning on going back to my old media habits any time soon.  I find myself using my time much more efficiently than I did before.

I wasn’t as “out of the loop” as I thought I would be.  I find that most people are more than willing to fill me in on any highlights I’ve missed, whether they are random strangers at the grocers or my friends and family.  If anyone refers to a newsworthy event I may have missed, I respond with, “I didn’t listen to the news today; what happened?” and they’re more than happy to fill me in.

Not only have I reclaimed enormous chunks of time, but I also find that I feel more positive and energized without the constant barrage of media negativity as well.

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