Monday, September 05, 2011

Writing Hack: Firewall Your Attention with a Lamp Timer

So I'm a big fan of productivity hacks. One of my biggest banes as a writer (which is one I imagine many of us share) is staying off the internet when I need to be getting work done. I have time set aside for writing every day, but for some reason, clicking the little red "X" on Google Chrome, and keeping it clicked, requires some insane willpower I don't have.

I'm a big fan of the Lifehacker blog,  and there I discovered a nifty little computer program called Freedom. Freedom shuts off your internet for specified periods of time, and in order to get it back before your time is up, you have to completely reboot your computer. This sounds like a great idea. Rebooting is just enough of a hassle to keep me from trying to disable the software. It's $10, which is a small investment to make in the name of writing productivity.

However, I'm also notorious for being frugal (read: cheapskate). So I thought, is there anything I could do for free that would accomplish the same end? And then I remembered my lamp timers.

Yes, a new one will set you back about what Freedom will, so this might be a toss-up if you don't already have one lying around. But as it happened, I had a couple of these from when I lived in a ground floor apartment and it was important to make it look like I was home. They interrupt the power between an outlet and a plug at set intervals, useful for having your house light itself--or for having your internet cut itself off without your help.

I plugged my router into one of these babies, set at 8AM and 10AM (my morning writing hours). And boom! No internet, and to turn it back on, I have to mess with that tangle of wires over in the corner that is entirely not worth the time. It even has an advantage over Freedom: with Freedom, you have to have the willpower to tell Freedom to start running (unless you schedule it to start). With this? My internet is gone, sayonara, adios at 8 everyday. No willpower required.

Who says freedom isn't free?

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