One of the things recommended by The 4-Hour Workweek (affiliate link) is a media fast. The author lays out “the rules”, which are essentially no web surfing, no news or newspapers, no magazines, no audiobooks, no TV, and no reading. There are a couple of exceptions: one hour of pleasure TV and fiction reading per day. He suggests doing this fast for 5 full days.

I decided to give it a shot, figuring it would be pretty easy since I already don’t watch TV or read the news. I knew I did some web surfing (reading blogs, participating on some forums, and getting distracted by the all-knowing Google) but didn’t think I spent that much time on it. Not listening to audio books might make work a little more boring, but I could live with that. I figured the biggest challenge by far would be not reading.

The fast showed me just how much more free time I have when I’m not spending it thoughtlessly. I’d have guessed that I spent maybe an hour per day web surfing, but the reality must have been something like 4 hours (and more on the weekends). I actually felt better physically not spending so much time online — I wasn’t as tired or stressed, and my back wasn’t sore. Not reading more than an hour a day was even harder than I’d thought it would be. Reading all the time (magazines, books, the backs of cereal boxes, what have you) is such an ingrained habit for me that I kept catching myself doing it. I especially tend to eat while I read, so this stopped a lot of unnecessary eating and I enjoyed my food more when I wasn’t reading.

I got a whole lot of things done during the fast that I’d been ignoring, and made significant progress on some huge long-term projects. Of course this also frees up more time to make money. I’m going to continue a modified version of the fast indefinitely.