So, for me, it goes like this.
- I decide to do some writing.
- I set myself some time to work on a project.
- I sit down.
- I open my word processing software of choice.
- Four hours laster, I’m reblogging gifsets on Tumblr or watching YouTube videos.
And the writing doesn’t get done, because the Internet is a temptress, and I am weak.
I used to use a piece of software called Freedom to stop the distractions, but it broke and instead of trying to troubleshoot it, I just uninstalled it and went back to my distraction-filled days.
Now I think I’ve found something better, and this one’s free!
What is SelfControl?
SelfControl is, in a nutshell, an app that blocks Internet access for a set amount of time.
A question I can immediately hear is, “Why don’t you just turn off your WiFi?”
Basically, if I just turned off my WiFi, five minutes later, I’d just turn it right back on, because that’s the sort of person I am.
SelfControl stops that from happening, because once you’ve started it, you can’t stop it. Quitting the program won’t stop it. Uninstalling the program won’t stop it. Restarting the machine won’t stop it.
So I’m encouraged to just keep going, because I have nothing else to do.
A Small Caveat
SelfControl is only as useful as you want it to be. In the world of smart phones and tablets and microwaves that probably have WiFi connection, you are never more than two feet away from the Internet.
You still have to be motivated to get your work done.
But for me, most of my casual straying is done via my computer (the Chrome button is RIGHT THERE!). I usually open up a browser without even realising I’m doing it. SelfControl is good for me, because when it’s on, and I’m greeted with the “You’re not connected to the Internet” message, it reminds me that I actually have work to do.
That’s probably why it’s called SelfControl. You still have to stop yourself from straying.
If you’re planning to stay off the Internet, stay off the Internet.
1. Since you can’t turn SelfControl off once it’s started, keep the timer low, I’d say no more than an hour–not because you can start browsing again more easily, but because after the hour is up, you can catch up with anything you’ve missed before turning it on for another session.
2. Use the “Whitelist” option instead of the “Blacklist” option. If you just use a blacklist and strike off the obvious sites, chances are there’ll be something you’ve forgotten about blocking, and then you’ll be back to square one. The whitelist lets you specify which sites you can still go on while SelfControl is active, which I’d recommend you keep to the basics, like Wikipedia or Google for research.
3. If you’re practically surgically attached to your mobile phone, make it a point to put it into Aeroplane Mode for the duration of your writing session. You can turn it back on when the SelfControl timer ends. If you don’t own a phone that has Aeroplane Mode,put it on silent and turn it over.
You can get SelfControl here:
For more specific questions on the app, check out the FAQ.