#TechToolTuesday: Freedom and Anti-Social
When I was in college I would go to other university libraries to cloister myself for most of a day. I would say it was to have stacks of research materials at my disposal (which was partly true) but in reality I did it because I was more productive without WiFi. Now that smartphones are everywhere it’s even harder to find a quiet place that doesn't have reliable internet service. Sometimes it can feel like running away from the internet like a Luddite Indiana Jones. Then I found the answer for my occasionally-terrible online self-control: Freedom.
Freedom blocks your internet connection in the name of productivity. When you launch the app you choose how long you want to go off the grid for (up to 8 hours). Could you do this by just turning off your WiFi? Yes. But freedom takes a special type of commitment: you can't turn it off unless you reboot your computer. I like to turn on Freedom for about 45 minutes when I need to start a project because that's when my procrastination is at its worst. 80 Percent Solutions claims your computer will feel different when using Freedom, and they're right. It's a mute button on digital noise.
Blocking your internet connection entirely is unworkable for some, especially if you need to research online while or need to remain connected for work. To help folks who still need to stay on line but need some extra help, there is a companion app called Anti-Social, which works is like Freedom for Social Media. Enter how much time you need to work and Anti-Social blocks access to the major social networking sites or any other sites you list.
When I used Anti-Social for the first time I saw how powerful bookmarks are in creating habits: my cursor kept going up to the Facebook, Twitter, and Wiki shortcuts. Each time I was met with an error message and a sigh of relief. Deliberately cutting myself off from distractions while still having internet access was great for a short-term burst of productivity, and I liked having the option to use either tool. There are plenty of other distractions left competing for your attention, and it's still up to you to use the time wisely. But it’s also amazing what a small behavioral change will do for your productivity.
If you need a little extra help to buckle down every now and again, Freedom or Anti-Social are great options. Both are available with a 60 day free trial and can be purchased for $10 and $15 dollars separately, or together for $20. You can find Freedom at Freedomapp.us and Anti-Social at Anti-Social.cc.