Everone who spends a whole work day in front of a computer knows how irresistable internet distractions can be. My own greatest sins are twitter, photography blogging, and browsing various news providers and interesting blogs. A lot of people use the pomodoro technique to stay focussed, which I’ve written about here. I use that from time to time, but sometimes I need something a bit more interventionist, and then I turn to the Freedom app.
The principle behind the Freedom app is very simple: it shuts down your internet for however long you ask it to. So why not just disable your wifi from the menu bar? Because it’s so easy to turn it back on. With the Freedom app, there’s no changing your mind – the only way to get back online is to reboot your computer, which raises the bar considerably for just ‘having a quick look at that twitter stream’.
So, here’s how it works. You start the app, and it asks you how long you want to stay offline. You can disable your internet connection for up to eight hours.
…and that’s it. Distractions eliminated (unless, of course, you have an iPad lying on your desk…).
Personally, I find myself turning to this app more often as I write. There’s a psychological benefit where turning it on somehow clears out clutter from my mind – not just in terms of unproductive procrastination, but also with regard to emails I know are waiting for my response, or work related tasks I need to do online. Once the Freedom app is on, they simply have to wait.
If you need to be online to write up your research, but you’re prone to being distracted by social media, the developers also have a companion app, Anti-Social, which allows you to block only selected sites, such as facebook and twitter.