A few of the inputs I've been inputting

A few of the inputs I’ve been inputting

This is a challenge to take back your productivity.

(The initial challenge is over but a ton of people are starting again this week – DO IT!)

Hi. My name is Kyle and I have a problem:
I’m addicted to information. 

The above photo is of books that I am either currently reading or recently finished (missing: Antifragile, The Impact Equation, and Antifragile). It’s a whole bunch of input.

I love digging into one book and then another and another. There is so much fascinating information out there. Brilliant people wrapping up their brilliant ideas in a couple hundred pages. How can one resist?

It’s even worse when I go into Google Reader or my inbox and I see the headlines of a million bloggers with life-changing things to say. They have the key to life! They have the final answer to getting all the traffic in the world to this blog! They have the best business lessons we can learn from ancient civilizations! All the answers are there every time.

Some information is good to miss out on.

Some information is good to miss out on.

So I click. I click and I read and I find interesting information. Sometimes I even use that information. Recently, though, it’s just been a binge. Hours of shoveling ideas into my head. If you try really hard, you can know everything (read: 0%) there is to know.

My head is so full of their ideas that my own are drowning. My own idea muscle is atrophying.

It’s time to reboot and remember that the most important ideas are the ones you act on.

I’m challenging myself and you to do an information reset. Below are the rules:

For one week:

  • No reading books.
  • No reading blogs.
  • No reading newspapers.
  • No going on Facebook (even just to post).
  • No watching TV (shows, sports, news, anything).
  • No watching movies.
  • No listening to talk radio.
  • No going on Reddit.
  • No going on Twitter.
  • No information input – only output!

I know this sounds absurd but believe me, this week (starting Monday!) could help establish your relationship to information input and output for the rest of the year.

Keep in mind that I’m not hating on learning by reading. Reading holds a near-sacred place in my life. The idea here is to reset our relationship with reading and watching and consuming. Mindless consumption can kill our creativity.

Take a step back and look at your information intake

Take a step back and look at your information intake

The Case for Input Deprivation Week


You’ll take more action. When you take out all the time in the day that you spend on reading and looking at pictures of kittens online you suddenly find yourself with a ton of free time. I understand that looking at mindless pictures online and reading a business book are two different types of inputs – obviously the cats are much more useful – but both of them drain you of opportunities to move forward on things you know you need to be.

It’s much easier to start in on the next item on your action list when you can’t distract yourself with whatever people are deciding to yell about on their Facebook walls. I am finding that it’s actually much easier to be productive because I’m not thinking of that book I want to be reading or going on reddit.

Get Zen!

Get Zen!

Increased mindfulness. While writing this post I have hit CMND+”T”+”FAC” about 5 times. Those are my keyboard shortcuts to get to Facebook. It’s my reflex every time there’s a pause in work. I do the same thing if a page is taking a while to load.

I deleted the Facebook and Pulse (app for reading blogs) off my phone because my reflex was to go on and read Seth Godin’s genius blog every time I was in line or stinking up a bathroom.

It’s amazing how much like crack addicts we information addicts actually are. We think we have to be getting new information and staying on top of the news or we’re falling behind. We think that if we go one minute without putting something new into our brains that we’ll become outdated or something. When you aren’t allowed to quench these info-cravings you are forced to notice your relationship to information. Very rarely do we go to a blog or book looking specifically for an answer to a problem. It’s a guiltless way of entertaining ourselves. We can call it education even though it’s almost always just an excuse to procrastinate.

You become aware of what you post to social networks. There have been three distinct times today that I’ve had an urge to post to Facebook and Twitter. It’s brutal. I had the wittiest things to say! They would have gotten a million “Likes”, it would have been great. If only I didn’t have a stupid rule stopping me… Posting on Facebook takes much more than just making the post. It’s the time I’d spend looking at how many likes it had and wondering if people would comment on it.

You have more ideas. It’s common for people to report that they get their best ideas in the shower, walking, or something similarly relaxing. Albert Einstein said that he found solutions to the most difficult problems while playing the violin. By taking away your reflexive consumption of information you open yourself up to way more opportunities to sit in that silence. When you’re not busy looking at other people’s ideas it’s easier to hear your own.



You realize what you’re looking for. When you have the urge to read a book and can’t it’s easy to see why you’re trying to read it. We often go to read about a problem that we already know how to solve. The solution is usually better found by sitting and actually trying to think about it ourselves.

For instance, reading a 10th book on health won’t make you more healthy. We all know the basics – just stop eating shitty food and go work out. That will take most of us farther than any book.

Reading another post on writing well won’t help me nearly as much as continuing to write will. Reading the newest business acquisition almost definitely won’t help me grow my own business. When I have the urge to read about something I now have to ask myself, “How can I best solve this problem myself?” Often, the answer I needed is waiting right behind that question.

Makes you more social. The first thing I do when I get in line at the coffee shop is get my phone out. God forbid somebody make eye contact with me. I don’t want to talk to you people, I wonder if anybody liked that very purposeful status I just made? Maybe you won’t talk to a bunch of people in line – I know I won’t – but at least I’m not avoiding standing with some fellow human beings.

You realize what news matters. You will hear about any news that impacts you from a friend. People talk about the things that matter. A meteor hit Russia yesterday and did a ton of damage. It’s crazy! That’s news! And I heard about it immediately because people talked about it. I didn’t hear about anything else. Apparently it wasn’t all that exciting. One of my good friends loves tech – he tells me everything I should know about the tech world. If I looked at a newspaper today I would probably get excited or upset about tons of headlines and then do exactly zero about them.

Thanks Amy!

Thanks Amy!

You gain respect for your own ideas. When you spend too much time reading other authors it’s easy to get lost in all the things you should be doing. You begin to see all the things that you’re not doing and all the things that others are doing better than you. You miss all the things you’re doing right. Reading an article about building a relationship with an audience doesn’t help me build an audience with you. I need to spend time testing ideas and writing about them for you. I need to spend more time emailing and meeting with you. That can’t be done be reading, only engaging.

 You gain perspective on information intake. When the week is over and you return to your information intakes, you will have a better relationship with them. You’ll catch yourself when you run to reddit to procrastinate. You’ll realize that you’re not actually on Facebook for anything productive most of the time. You’ll be more likely to take action on the information you read because of the self-discipline you’ve developed.

You’re forced to be original. When you can’t look for another person’s ideas on something you’re forced to come up with something yourself. When you can’t go looking online for inspiration you have to find it around (and inside) yourself.


Sometimes it's a matter of setting up your environment

Sometimes it’s a matter of setting up your environment

How To Stay Strong

It can take a lot of willpower to stop yourself from so many habits at once. Most of us can barely fix one bad habit at a time. I’ve found some tricks to make it easy though. The secret is to set up your environment so it’s more annoying to fall back into your bad habit than it is to maintain your input deprivation. Take 15 minutes to guarantee that you won’t be tempted to give up on Day 1.

  • Install StayFocusd or its equivalent and put all your time-sucking websites on there. ALL of them! Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (??), reddit, Digg (??), Chive, EVERYTHING!
  • Delete your consumption apps. I deleted Facebook, Pulse, and Twitter off my phone. Delete the apps that you reflexively go to when you have a minute of free time.
  • Move your books and magazines. They will just taunt you if they’re sitting on your bedstand or at your desk. Make a stack and put it out of site.
  • Carry a notebook with you. You’re going to begin having ideas pop up in your head, make notes of them. I like notepads more than phones because we associate them with creating instead of consuming. It’s risky to take notes on a smartphone if you’re trying to avoid inputs.
  • Take the batteries out of your remote. When you have the urge to flick on the TV you’ll have to go get batteries for the remote. This is a barrier to TV that will save your willpower pool from draining as you stare down the remote thinking about all the Jersey Shore and MadMen you’re missing.

If you did these 5 things you’re good to go.



Let’s Do This!

This is going to be tough, but it will be easier if we do it together.

If you’re game – comment below. Let us know you’re doing it with us and check in throughout the week.

If you have a question about the challenge (or a challenge for the challenge), let me know in the comments!

As always, feel free to email me at kyle at startupbros dot com.


Are you ready to MAKE some shit this week?

I hope so.

Because it’s all starting.


(Or Monday… if you want to be a baby about it…)


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Kyle Eschenroeder

Thanks for taking the time to read this! Let me know what you think - the good, the bad, the ugly - in the comments below.

I'm an entrepreneur (more in the StartupBros About Page) in St. Petersburg, FL

  • Jonathan says:

    Awesome! That was the best piece of advice I’ve read all year! Thanks for sharing that!

  • Yes, I am going to join you, as best I can. Already put down the remote. Thanks for the awesome ideas. cooper says:

    Thanks for bringing this important issue to light.
    I, and others, know this to be true, but are weak
    willed and feel alone and powerless. This concept
    is empowering and could result in so many great
    accomplishments. You are awesome!

  • Steven says:

    Kyle aka Start-Up Bro,

    This is absolutely brilliant…

    There is the term “out of the box thinking”, you have no box.

    Thank You for sharing this!

  • Casey says:

    That’s a great Roosevelt quote, and StayFocusd is perfect. Many thanks.

    Re: information input
    See dopamine + mesolimbic pathway. Yes, I realize the irony of a comment on this post linking to Wikipedia.


  • Cate says:

    I’m in, or should I say out? 🙂 had this discussion w a few folks last week and time for output – I too love, love to read but it’s stifling true learning/doing for me. Later ….. C

  • Elliott says:

    I’m in. See you guys next Monday

  • Chris says:

    Ha, Just noticed the baby success kid is eating sand.

  • Jennifer says:

    If you would like to try Sensory Deprivation I would be happy to accommodate; I have a tank.

    Do some research about it and if you want to try, just contact me.

  • Altin says:

    So if we have questions we can emaail you or comment here ans we will get a quick reply. Meaning you didn’t delete/quit email and you’re gonna get distracted from it? LOL
    Anyways I’m up for the chaallenge starting today that I just found this article. I have stopped using facebook in the paast for like 5 months and I can tell the first 4-5 days are the most difficult to hold. After that it becomes natural and it feels really good. I really miss that time of natural-me wiithout all that digital information crap so I’m up for the challenge.

    • Oh yeah! I’m doing limited emailing and commenting – it’s no distraction to hang out with you guys! Smartynetwork looks great, looking forward to seeing what you do with it.
      I’ve taken a similar break from Facebook with awesome results. What did you find from your break?

  • Altin says:

    Thanks Kyle,
    just like you, I quit the JOB scam one week ago to never return back to it alive and at SmartyNetwork I’m building a software company.

    From the break, more free time to reflect on my life and career endeavors. More time to spend doing things I like and hanging out more. In general I noticed I was happier than usual and not attached to any of the online stuff, kind of more independent you know. I didn’t have that mind virus to login to fb several times a day just for the habit of doing so. It’s a mind virus many people suffer from today 🙂

  • Altin says:

    hell yeah, I’m gonna succeed or die trying. that’s why i cut off every other possibility for me to “create” excuses. Right now i have all the time and freedom I want so I’m working hard daily on that goal. I wish the best for you too.
    By the way I first visited your site about 3-4 months ago when I was dragging myself too that job and so was searchinng “how to quit your job” lol 🙂

    • Hell yeah man! Throw yourself off the cliff! That’s exactly what Quentin Tarantino did – he said he never set up a plan B because if he did he probably would have taken it.

      That’s awesome you found us with that search term! James Altucher, one of my favorite bloggers, has a post with that title. Did we appear before him in the search terms?

  • wally p says:

    Oh, the irony! Missed the time frame on this challenge because of the very reason for this challenge…

    StayFocus’d installed. Post shared everywhere. Ready to make stuff.

    This was written for me. And I thought I was the only one…

    • No worries, Wally! You have almost half the time left to do it with us. At day 3 I was already noticing serious benefits (and dealing with serious struggle!) so hop on it now!

      And you can always take it to a week from today. That will be way easier to do if you get a friend on board. It’s been much easier for me to do this because of all the awesome support everyone has been giving here and on email.

      Feel free to email me, too!

      And thanks A TON for sharing this. That may be the highest compliment a writer can be paid. Commenting and actually participating are up there, too 🙂

  • zulfah says:

    I’m an addict too! What a great post, thank you.

  • […] I discovered a great blog today through this awesome post: Input Deprivation Week: Forcing Action by Killing Information Addictions […]

  • wally p says:

    Like I told Kyle in an email exchange, it’s hard to cut yourself off completely when your livelihood depends on being online, including social media. I’ve been doing my best to keep everything work-related though, and spending less time with things that can be put off for a week or even a few days. Since Saturday I’ve come up with an idea for a new startup that’s more in the non-profit vein. I’ve already bought domains, set up a temporary landing page and begun contacting investors and potential partners. Waiting on trademark approval and then BOOM! Let your brain do some breathing, it makes life better.

    • Altin says:

      Great Wally, however I think it would be a good idea to validate your startup idea via a survey (surveymonkey.com) or fb questions and see if people actually want it. We entrepreneurs often tend to come up with an idea, fall in love with it and spend many weeks to see that at the end it doesn’t get much of attention. that’s why it is always recommended to validate your ides as soon as possible. best of luck you your ventures 😉

  • Richard says:

    I don’t have a pithier comment to say than that I’ll try it this week, starting now. Thanks for the motivation.

    • Thanks for giving it a go! I love the layout of your site, btw. Feel free to email or comment if you have any issues with the challenge! I promise – it gets HARD FAST. (That’s what she!…) Either way, keep in touch, it’s fascinating to see the different problems that everyone has been having and the solutions we’ve been coming up with!

  • edward says:

    Great Idea. Seeing as it is already wednesday in Australia, I’ll start when I finish my current project.

    I have a question. What do we do at night with no input of any kind? Do we just go to bed at 7pm?

    • Hey Edward! Night time is a trick for sure. If you’ve been working all day and your brain is fried it’s going to DEMAND that you stop thinking and get some inputs. These are the three things that saved me:
      1. Journal. Just take out paper (I don’t like looking at digital screens at night – it fucks with sleeping) and begin writing. Don’t think of things to write, just write your stream of consciousness. Don’t use any brainpower, just report. By externalizing things you’ll discover problems and solutions to the challenge and your life at large.
      2. Go on walks. Just start walking (slowly) and fight the urge to take your phone. Notice nature or the businesses in your city. After about 45 minutes of walking slowly your brain will slow down and let you start to notice interesting things about your surroundings. That’s when my best ideas come. But you got to beat out the swirling ideas by giving yourself plenty of time.
      3. Talk with friends. Either go hang out with friends physically or let yourself have extended (non-purposeful) phone conversations. My week of non-inputs let me deepen my relationship with several people because I literally “had nothing better to do” than have extended conversations.

      Let me know if those work or if you find your own!

      (I usually go to bed and read for a couple hours so it was certainly weird for me to lie down in bed and have to bed and not do anything – except journal)

  • Kenny Yang says:

    I want to kiss you. I’ve come across two articles in one day that have slapped me in the face. This is one of them.

    I came across them while consuming. I’ve found that reading business books/self dev/blogs/etc is a form of procrasturbation for me. It makes me “feel” like I’m working because it’s not as apparent as looking at cats on reddit and I feel good because it’s “productive”!

    My lizard brain will tell myself. “It’s not procrastination! I’m learning and preparing.” Good ole lizzy will even pull this quote from Lincoln to support it,

    “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

    Well I’ve been sharpening this damn as for too damn long. The tree is only growing and hell I don’t even know if it’s a solid tree that’s hard as a rock or a tree with a rotting inside because I haven’t swung my damn axe yet.

    That’s the problem. I’m not applying what I’m consuming, I’m only consuming. Just like sharpening an axe everyday only to put it in the shed and not use it -_-

    lizard brain/resistance/scum bag brain/etc is tricky. I’m figuring out his tricks day by day though 🙂

    *urges to ctrl+t and type facebook/reddit are tingling very hard*

    It really feels like I’m a freaking crack addict.

    Try driving without the radio/smartphone/etc, only leaving yourself with your thoughts and driving. I get physically/mentally uncomfortable and need a fix. just a quick hit of that good facebook…. anything! just something to stimulate me!! I’m getting better though. working on the discipline muscle every day 🙂

    I’m in. This will be the most productive week of my life.


    p.s. Just writing an CREATING this post feels great. it solidifies my thoughts and bring them to reality.

    p.s.s. the facebook and reddit urges are tingling but I slapped it in the face.

    • Curious – what’s the other face-slapper?

      lol I love “procrasturbation” – that’s basically what it is. Makes you feel better for now but you’re not really building up to anything.

      “Well I’ve been sharpening this damn as for too damn long. The tree is only growing and hell I don’t even know if it’s a solid tree that’s hard as a rock or a tree with a rotting inside because I haven’t swung my damn axe yet.” —HELL YES! If nothing else, action tests tests the tree for what it really is.

      At least some of your procrasturbation was with Godin 🙂

      YES! You literally created by commenting! Not only a post but another piece of inspiration for everybody here. Thank you for that! And thank you for what you’re about to make this week 🙂

      Keep in touch and let us know how you’re doing with the challenge! It gets really damn hard, man. I know the support of some of the friends on this blog helped me immensely. LET US KNOW!

      • Kenny Yang says:

        It’s a post by one of my fitness role models, John Romaniello. He has been very successful in the fitness industry/has a very successful fitness blog and just launched a new blog dedicated to everything not fitness related.

        Here’s his post


        It all comes down to shipping and releasing things into the world to see how the world responds to it.

        Lean start up methodology, OODA Loop, testing, etc. It all comes down to shipping so you can test and then revising, then testing, then revising, etc.

        This quote from a cracked article describes why it’s so hard to ship.

        “Also, courage. It’s incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don’t create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created.”

        It’s all about EXECUTION!!

        I’m going to assume you’ve seen this post by Derek Sivers.


        Ideas are just a multiplier of execution!!!! An idea is worthless if it’s not executed but a crappy idea executed is worth a billion+2.5 times more than that “perfect and ingenious” idea bouncing around your head. You learn 2 billion times more from executing an idea than war planning the freaking thing for years. War planning also leads to analysis paralysis and you end up finding and focusing on the holes on why the idea won’t work. Then…the lizard brain smooth talks yourself out of executing and trying the idea.

        Then you are left at zero again and only left with self doubt and sometimes that arrogant feeling of “boy thank goodness I didn’t pursue that idea. it totally would have failed. I am so smart.” But in reality it’s only a cover up for your self doubt, lack of confidence, fear of shipping, fear of failing, fear of success etc.


        That felt good.

        now back to actual work.


        p.s. have you thought about instead of eliminating consumption, you schedule consumption time?

        ex. Say you can consume material only at 8-9pm etc.

        p.s.s. I’m also talking directly to my lizard brain through this post. :p

        • Kenny Yang says:

          I also wanted to add that. I’m not saying that reading is bad and it’s JUST about doing doing doing. ( I realized that I pushed that very hard in my last post)

          I’m a very avid reader as well and have half of those books you posted in that picture. I have a book case full of books that I’m sure you have as well along with a kindle filled with books.

          It’s important to use books correctly and having a purpose for them. Not using them for my procrasturbation.

          I now need to make sure that when I read something, I have a purpose for it and that I will apply at least one idea from the book into the real world.

          If you’re reading something for pleasure then do so and make that decision, but don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re doing something you’re not. (aka procrasturbation)


          books have their place in business and life but only if you use them correctly.

        • AMEN all the way through. I love me a little Sivers 🙂 his post on what’s obvious to you was one of the keys to shouting about the things I know and love.

          Scheduled consumption can work for some people but that’s not the point of this challenge. Input Deprivation is meant to completely reset your relationship with your information input. It’s about feeling the pain/urge to consume. If you get a scheduled break then it’s just not possible to really understand how you consume deeply enough.

          And on execution! You’ll notice that most people doing really well aren’t all that intellectually brilliant (that’s more useful for dinner parties than building things), they just know their business/industry inside and out. They learned from flailing and failing and winning.

          We love to have you here talking to your lizard brain 🙂

    • Also! Congrats on starting your blog – it’s already badass!

      One maintenance thing – your social buttons at the top right don’t point us where we need to be!

    • Roberto says:

      “procrasturbation” 🙂 !!

      you are brilliantly right!
      Let’s see what happens, I’m IN…

      I guess I am far more addicted to info consumption than I thought, and that it’s a wide-spread affection…

      There’s a quote by Pablo Picasso that fits this perfectly:
      “I do not seek, I find”

      Thanks so much for this post guys! You’ve won a new fan



  • Ellie Wyatt says:

    Ok, I’m starting on Saturday

  • Great stuff guys! Thanks for the motivation and excitement to keep me inspired and doing!