Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Driven to distraction


In this modern, cyber-infused world, we writers are bombarded with constant distractions that keep us from our most fundamental task... writing. (Now that I have a smart phone, I suffer this all the more. >.<) I mean, c'mon. We're expected to build, grow, and maintain a social media platform, then find the peace and quiet necessary to write thousands of expertly crafted and painstakingly polished words. It's kind of ironic when you really think about it. Connect! Now unplug! :P

I recently heard about a couple of apps that are designed to help modern humans eliminate the distractions, or at least control them enough to find a balance.



The first is Freedom. It's a $10 app that turns off your internet service for a predetermined period of time. The up side? Internet silence. The downside? To restore your service before time is up, you have to reboot your computer. (Fwiw, Freedom wouldn't work for me. I need my browser for research while I'm writing. For now, I just close down the email and social tabs and leave the other ones open.) For a limited time, Freedom also has an app for android.

Another app mentioned on a video on the Freedom site is a service called Rescue Time. This app is more expensive, but it does more, too. Rescue Time monitors your use of various sites and organizes the data into reports that show you where your time is being spent. It can also block distracting sites, alert you when you've spent too much time somewhere, and congratulate you on a very productive day.

A third app I came across is called Anti-social. It can block distracting sites from 15 minutes to 8 hours. It costs $15, but for a few more bucks, you can buy it bundled with Freedom.

I'm curious what you think.
Have you ever heard of such apps?
Would any of these work for you?

32 comments:

  1. Ever heard of willpower Melissa, it's much cheaper.

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    1. LOL True. It's what I use now (closing tabs), but will power doesn't stop the notifications on my phone from beeping and distracting me. ;)

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  2. I've heard of the apps, but like you, I do research via the web too.

    I actually like SpaceJock's products. He's a programmer, who is also a writer... hmmm, I wonder why I'm drawn to that? I use yWriter5 for my writing and organization. He also has a product called AntiBrowser. It makes you type in a code before you're allowed to use your browser. Kind of makes you pause and wonder if it's worth the effort.

    I have a quick button that can turn off wifi on my laptop. That cuts off my internet connection, and it takes a few seconds before it reconnects. That's another way to keep myself off social media.

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    1. I've got the computer thing solved by just closing the browsers. It's my smart phone that's the issue. If I turn off all notifications, then I won't know if my family members text me. Sometimes those texts are urgent.

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  3. The apps sound great for the days I'm not researching (which will come...someday...) and I'll definitely look into them. Thank you! For now, I do the best I can to shut everything else down, but I still have a bad habit of checking email. I have to stop!

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  4. Some days are worse than others, but the idea of climbing a mountain and leaving my phone behind sounds really great to me. That's my version of a freedom app. :)

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  5. I research while I write, too. For my timing issues, I've been using a dollar store timer. Works great - when I remember to set it LOL. I do good for a while...then not so much.

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    1. I have been known to set an alarm on my phone. :)

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  6. If I'm writing on my laptop, I keep only one window open for research purposes, like checking on the definition of a word. No email, no blog, etc.

    And for general unplugging, I have set times and/or deadlines for checking email, blog stuff etc. It doesn't always work but it helps. :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

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    1. Social media has too many enticing bunny trails. :P

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  7. I'm not sure any of these would work for me. I'd probably pay the money and then end up surfing the net on another device, lol. I've been trying to disconnect lately but it's tough because we have to remain active on social media to continue building our platforms. But hopefully, I'll be able to find a balance, and soon.

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    1. The one that gives stats on various usage could be useful, at least at first, to help one see where their time is being spent. It might make it easier to set limits and make a schedule. Timer time! :D

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  8. The first one reminded me of a part of the book Ready Player One, where the main character couldn't log into the net (Matrix style) until he exercised.

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    1. Hahaha! I love how your mind works. :P

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  9. I think they would be really great for when you wanted your kids to study.

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  10. Seems to me there are a bunch of people out there trying to make money by scamming folks. If I don't want any interruptions I simply log off or close my Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts. And it's free!

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    1. True. Not so easily done on a smart phone, though. I have yet to figure out how to turn off only select notifications. I need to still get texts and calls.

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  11. I think the easier and cheaper way to turn off your internet service is to unplug your modem :P.

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  12. Ehh... call me elitist or some other unflattering adjective, but I've long thought that since writing itself requires a lot of discipline (at least the way I do it), keeping away from social media and other distractions while writing shouldn't be that difficult. I've thought about checking Twitter and the like while writing, but I stop myself, and continue writing. If apps like these can help someone, cool, but I don't think I'll ever need them.

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    1. Oh, Mason. You're as elitist as they get. :P

      Seriously, I agree. These wouldn't help me much. The computer part, I've fairly mastered.

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  13. Hmmm interesting! But, like you--I'm a total web browser/googler when I'm writing. Holy crap, my entire romanticized ideal of "if only I lived in the ... such and such era before computers.." was just shattered by this realization HAHA

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  14. Great post, but I tend to check emails on phone if I get off internet while writing.

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    1. Exactly my problem... well, because of the notifications that pull me out of my story's world.

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  15. What I think is that companies are taking advantage of people inability to control themselves and not cave into distractions. It's clearly working, since folks are spending money to have their tech devices tailored towards this end. No surprise. Smart marketing. I'd rather save the money and work on my social media issues with myself.

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  16. I really don't need those kinds of apps since I often have so little time to write that when I sit down in front of the computer I don't want to do anything else but write. In fact, I should probably spend more time on social media making connections with others.

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    1. And that's the rub... the need to do both. I don't want to totally cut myself off. My main problem is my phone. I'm currently playing around with the notification settings. I just might be able to get what I need without buying some app. ;)

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