The Internet is like a coin with the good on one side and the bad on the other. It makes our life easier by providing us with tons of information and acts as the medium to connect to the world, but at the same time it often distract us from the immediate task at hand.
How many of you who never peek at your chat windows, check your mail inbox or keep your Facebook page open while you work? I’m sure the number is low – if any.
I personally think it’s OK to refresh your mind once in a while. The problem is sometimes we don’t have the luxury of spare time due to the deadlines, and yet most of the time our will power is not strong enough to resist the temptation.
We could use some help.
A little bit of Self Control
I found an app – with a scary icon – that can help me strengthen my will power. It’s called Self Control. This app does one simple thing: blocks access to incoming and/or outgoing mail servers and websites for a predetermined period of time.
For example, you could block access to your email, Facebook, and Twitter for 90 minutes, but still have access to the rest of the web. This selective blacklisting feature is very useful if you still have to do some research and post to your blog while eliminating other distracting sites.
Click the “Edit blacklist” button (or use Command + D) to add (+) or subtract (-) blacklisted sites. Please note that you have to type in the site address manually as the app won’t allow you to copy and paste. Another limitation is that you can’t add sub-folder address (something like www.apple.com/itunes/).
The import button is for you to add incoming and outgoing mail servers from Mail and Thunderbird.
Other settings are accessible through Preferences windows (Command + Comma)
After everything is set, you can click the “Start” button and have your distractive web gone for a while. But remember, once started, the process cannot be undone by the application or by restarting the computer – you must wait for the timer to run out.
Going to the extreme
In the extreme case where you absolutely must have no web distraction at all (I am still having difficulties imagining what case that would be), you can use Freedom to block all access to the net.
The appearance is simple. There’s a box where you type in the amount of minutes you want your network blocked – with the maximum of eight hours.
After clicking “OK”, the second window will appear giving you the option to cancel, limit access to local network or block all access (Normal Mode).
What make Freedom a little bit different from Self Control is that you can ‘cheat’ the process by doing a system reboot. It’s a bit of a hassle, but still do-able. Maybe this is the option to take if you accidentally start Freedom.
To me, these two apps are not really useful as most of my distractions are not from the net. But what about you? Do you find SelfControl and Freedom useful? Do you have other alternatives? Share your thoughts using the comment below.