Unplug Yourself

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One in eight American adults obsessively checks e-mails or loses track of time while browsing online, according to a 2006 Stanford University School of Medicine report. If that sounds like you, you may be addicted to the Internet. "Obsessive Web use is often driven by a hunger to connect with people or to feel like you belong," explains Judith Wright, a life coach and the author of The Soft Addiction Solution (Tarcher, 2006). Wright says other signs of addiction include:

Zoning out when surfing the Internet and mindlessly jumping between Web pages, often forgetting what you've just seen or read
Getting sidetracked by e-mail at the office instead of using the computer to do your work
Feeling preoccupied by the Web and worrying that you're missing something when offline
Upsetting family and friends with the time you spend online
If you exhibit any of these behaviors, it's time to get more mindful about how you use the Web and e-mail. Try these strategies.

Turn off any alerts that indicate incoming e-mail or instant messages so you aren't distracted from your work.
Schedule specific times during the day to check your e-mail.
Plan activities that get you away from the computer and in physical contact with other people. Instead of e-mailing a friend all day, for example, set up a lunch and talk face-to-face.
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By D. G.

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