MAY 2012: Even the most productive frogs can get distracted sometimes! If you’ve ever web surfed your day away or spent more time on Twitter or Facebook than you planned, check out these tools designed to help you reclaim your day.
With Concentrate ($29 after free trial, Mac), a highly rated productivity desktop app, you set up in advance the programs you want to block while doing a specific activity. For example, you can set up a “finances” activity that blocks Twitter, YouTube and your email program. Then when it’s time to pay bills or work on your taxes, you tell Concentrate you’re starting a “finances” activity. It automatically closes the blocked programs and prevents you from accessing them while doing your “finances” activity. It also automatically opens the programs you DO want running. There’s no PC version at this time, unfortunately.
KeepMeOut! (free, PC/Mac) is a free, super-simple, web-based app you use to create bookmarks for websites that you want to visit — just not visit too often. Tell KeepMeOut! how frequently you want to visit the sites, such as no more than every 90 minutes, and it will warn you if you try to visit too frequently. For KeepMeOut to work, you need to access the websites through the bookmarks you’ve created so it can track your time. Countdown timers are provided.
If you’re serious about keeping yourself from ALL online distractions, you can block the entire Internet with Freedom ($10, PC/Mac). Start by blocking web access for 20-45 minute time periods and see how that goes. But you can choose to block it for up to eight hours. What happens if you try to get online early? Freedom won’t let you — unless you reboot! An alternate app from the same developer is called Anti-Social (free, PC/Mac). As the name implies, it blocks all social media platforms.
To monitor how you’re actually spending your time on the computer, try RescueTime (free, PC/Mac). It’s a web-based time management and analytics tool with lots of features like a dashboard, time reports and categories you can edit. The business version can also tell you where your team’s time goes, while the pro version ($72/year or $9/month) includes even more features.
Warning: these distraction management tools may get you addicted to productivity!