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Freedom!

Chris Hayes:

I'm working on a book right now, so now that I've discovered this firehose of media information flowing at me, I actually need to find software to interrupt that. A grad student told me about a life-changing piece of freeware at a wedding called Freedom. Basically, it will shut off your Internet connection for a number of minutes you specify. I usually wake up, I read my RSS inbox, and then I turn on Freedom for two hours and attempt to go through some books for stuff I'm working on for my book, write 1000 words, do some concentrated thinking, or try to craft some prose. I disagree with Nick Carr's book in some parts, but it seems undeniable that the Internet is having bad effects on our concentration. One of the interesting things about writing a book is trying to read through academic books that aren't that gripping, like Weber (who is a great writer, but it's not Moneyball). Forcing myself to read through a long, somewhat dense book is exercising such an atrophied muscle in my brain.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 10:43 AM ET
 
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Comments

Some of us need to have a constant internet connection for work; I work remotely in web development, so a constant connection to the DB, and being available online is essential. I've tried similar schemes that do similar things.

An easy one is just modifying the host file in windows to block sites that I spend too much time on (like voices.washingtonpost.com). Unfortunately, I eventually find new sites, spend too much time there, and they get added. At one point my host file was thousands of line long. And then if I want to use those sites out of work hours I have to manually update them.

Leech Block, a firefox addon does something similar, but it has some nice time controls.
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4476/, but it only works to block stuff in firefox.

What's worked for me really well has been the pomodoro technique, which involves some self restraint, and 100% focus in 25 minute blocks, with 5 minute blocks to handle distractions. http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/

I use a nice little android app to track the tasks and time, and it works really well. Beyond keeping me away from the constant novelty of the web, it also helps me manage the multitude of tasks, emails, conversations, text messages that are part of an average workday. It has really helped me reinvent myself as a programmer, and how productive I can be.

And now the buzzer just beeped, time to get back to work!

Posted by: chargeorge | August 20, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

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