Is “work flow” an oxymoron for you? On many days it is for me. The first thing that I do in the morning is check Twitter and then email. Both inevitably cause me to click on links to websites, and before you know it, an hour goes by.
If this happened only in the morning, I’d be productive enough, but the process repeats every time I’m away from my computer during the day. In other words, the first thing that I do after any absence is check Twitter and email—and another hour goes by.
During the summer, I get even less work done because my kids are at home, and they’re always dropping into my home office. Luckily, I don’t check Facebook on a daily basis, and no one sends me text messages, or things would be worse.
Sure, I’ve read the advice of lifehackers and GTDers who tell you how to do the important things first and to create various systems. But I’m too weak. For a while I thought that I’d never finish my next book.
Does any of this sound familiar? If it does, I recently found two applications that have helped me. First, Freedom by Fred Stuzman. It turns off Internet access for your computer for up to eight hours. There is a way to override it—restarting your computer—but doing this is a total admission of weakness. It sells for $10, Macintosh and Windows.
Second, Fred also created a program called Anti-Social. It enables you to block access to specific sites and their APIs for up to eight hours too—for example, http://twitter.com/ and api.twitter.com. This means that you can’t access Twitter via the Twitter website nor Twitter clients like Tweetdeck that use the Twitter API. The complete list of sites that it can block includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Hulu and YouTube.
Anti-Social is for people who need access to email and websites for work purposes and, say, Pandora, for music but cannot handle unrestricted access to everything. Like Freedom, you can override it by restarting your Macintosh. It sells for $15 (or $20 for both Freedom and Anti-Social), Macintosh only.
Sure, you and I should be strong enough and mature enough to prioritize our activities and get things done. But sometimes everyone needs a little help, and these two applications can be just the thing for the weak of us.