We all know the feeling. You’re twenty minutes into writing an important document, and somehow the irrepressible urge overtakes you, to look at emails, have a little peak at twitter, or check, by means of an internet quiz, which character from ’Friends’ you’re most similar to. Sadly forty minutes later you realize that you’re no closer to achieving what you originally sat down to do.
#1 Go Cold Turkey
If this sounds like you, then maybe you should go cold turkey. Get the basic version for free, or for a fee upgrade to ’Student’ or ’Parent’ versions. You can block access to distracting websites or apps, set timers (which cannot then be changed during their running period, so no cheating), and in the more advanced versions, you can input a timetable to enforce certain times of day, and days of the week, when you will be distraction free. The app claims to have almost 93000 users at present - so that’s a lot of people swapping cat videos, for productive study or work time.
#2 Don’t mess with the owl
The productivity owl is a free chrome plug-in designed to stop you from playing on distracting websites, when you had intended to work. You set a timer of an agreed amount of time to spend on sites (excluding those sites you have already set as ’allowed’). If you spend longer than you have agreed, the productivity owl comes along, closes the offending tabs, and you return to work suitably chastised. In time, the theory goes, you learn to open webpages to find specific information, get what you need, and then close the page, rather than following intriguing links down an internet sized black hole, and appearing half an hour later with little recollection of what you were originally looking for.
#3 Use tomato power
The Strictworkflow plugin works along the Pomodoro time management techniques, and is set to force a distraction free 25 minutes of work, followed by a 5 minute break to reward yourself. It is pre-programmed to block popular distraction sites, and you can also choose to ’blacklist’ your personal time drainers. The site then employs the pomodoro ’tomato’ symbol, which sits on the screen to notify you of the time left in the current session.
#4 Not forgetting the mac users
If you’re a mac user, then the Self Control app is the one for you. You can use it to block access to distracting websites, stop you from accessing your mail, or anything else on the Internet. All you need to do is choose a length of time you want to block for, add sites which you know are your own personal challenges, to your blacklist, and off you go. Until the time is up, you will be unable to access the sites you have blacklisted - even if you restart your computer or remove the app.
# 5 And finally
These apps are not all brutal. Did you want something to look forward to whilst you’re writing that boring text? Try Written Kitten, which rewards you with a picture of a kitten, puppy, or bunny every time you hit a certain word count. Pick a target, and every hundred words (or whatever your choice of target is) a cutesy picture will appear to reward you.
And what better motivation could you have to stop procrastinating, and get on with your work?
Do you utilize any of these apps to help stop you procrastinating? What one do you find most useful? Your thoughts and comments below please…