During the work day, interrupts from e-mail or social media can lead me to compose e-mails or get sidetracked, 20 web searches away, hot on the hunt for answers to interesting questions raised by the latest forwarded content. Today I discovered a useful, free application called SelfControl (http://visitsteve.com/made/selfcontrol/) that blocks your computer from accessing certain domains such as Facebook.com, Twitter.com, or incoming mail servers. It blocks these connections for a fixed period of time and it is nearly impossible to disable once you’ve started the clock. It is just as if I were going into a meeting where I wouldn’t normally be checking my e-mail, but this meeting is with my own mental creativity team.
RescueTime has a similar feature called “Get Focused” which uses their database of distraction ratings to turn off all sites you have labeled as Very Distracting. Unfortunately, there isn’t yet a way to add your e-mail to this service so SelfControl provides a useful extra bit of filtering.
(It’s really too bad this doesn’t apply to my spare computer, my iphone, ipad or my wife’s computer…but technology only takes us so far in supporting behavior change)