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 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 minduful 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