Apps That Boost Your Productivity: SelfControl (Part One)

Interruption is your productivity's worst enemy. Not only does it pull your thoughts away from the project at hand, studies show that it will take you about 25 minutes to get back on task.

You can’t always control when you're interrupted, like when your boss swings by your desk to ask a time-sensitive question, or when your toddler wakes up from a nap right when you’re hitting your stride.

But what about those we can control? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—I’m looking at you.)

The Internet is full of rabbit holes just waiting to interrupt your productivity. In this four-part blog series, I’ll explore my favorite tools and apps that can help you minimize distractions and—if used consistently—help boost your productivity.

SelfControl App

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Who should use it?

SelfControl is made for people who are easily distracted by social media, online shopping, or the Internet at large. Anytime you need to sit down and crank out revisions or a project proposal—without succumbing to the temptations of adorable puppy videos online—turn on SelfControl.

How it works:

This app (available for free on Mac) allows you block any website or mail server. You create a blacklist of pages you don’t want to be able to access while you’re working.

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When you’re ready to go in the zone, turn on the timer. You select, in 15-minute increments, how long you want to focus. Once you click start, the app will block your access to any website on your blacklist.

Word of warning:

Don’t click start until you’re absolutely ready. And be mindful to set the timer for reasonable amount of time. You cannot, I repeat you CAN NOT, out smart the system. Once the timer is on, you must let it run its course. Restarting your device will not cancel the timer, nor will it enable you to regain access to the blacklisted sites.

That’s the whole idea, right? SelfControl knows we humans are weaklings. It knows at some point try to cheat the system.

How I Use It:

I use SelfControl almost every time I’m working on my novel. Not only does this remove the temptation of social media, it also removes interruptions like “research.” Research is critical part to the writing process, but I believe it needs (and deserves) it’s own time and place. Don’t let research impede your creative writing time.

I also have a three-strike rule. If I visit a website more than three times when I should be focused on work, I add it to my blacklist. 

Do you use the SelfControl app? If so, how has it helped you become more productive? Comment below.