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April 11, 2006 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for software that will help me make better use of the time I spend on my computer. It should help me stay productive and discourage procrastination.

A quick search on Google pointed me to Temptation Blocker, but that's about the only decent program I have found. Any other suggestions?

I've also been thinking about implementing my own little tool. Immediately after logging in it would present you with a system-wide modal dialog -like when clicking on 'Shut Down' in Windows- wherein you can make a list of tasks you want to accomplish during this session. Each task has a duration and a list of applications you are allowed to use. You can switch between tasks on the fly.

The aim of the application is not to make procrastination absolutely impossible, but to provide the user with structure and a sense of the amount of time spent on the computer.

Do you like this idea? Would you use it? Do you have any suggestions or remarks that would improve the effectiveness of such a tool?
posted by koenie to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
You could try something that will periodically remind you to take a few deep breaths and think about what you're doing, e.g. a bell of mindfulness [I have not tried this program]. I'm sure there are a ton of take-a-break-now-so-you-don't-get-eyestrain-or-RSI programs out there that would work just as well.
posted by teleskiving at 9:09 AM on April 11, 2006


The guy from Achieve-IT just released a windows version of his goal setting software which might be helpful, if not exactly what you're looking for.
posted by soplerfo at 9:17 AM on April 11, 2006


Though somewhat mac-centric, 43 folders often have good suggestions on avoiding procrastination and "getting things done."
posted by Frankieist at 10:06 AM on April 11, 2006


Set up your computer for multiple users. Make one profile for work only and do not give it admin privileges. Get rid of all shortcuts to games, and prevent access to folders that have interesting things. Basically just allow access to software that you absolutely need. And obviously disable internet access for this user profile. Be a bastard admin.
posted by JJ86 at 11:07 AM on April 11, 2006


I think your idea is great. I would actually really like to use it. A few ideas:

I personally would like to get reminders, like: "You've been writing the report for 15 minutes and should be 25% done with Section 1." I'd like to be able to add time to the task, because if my original estimate was way off, I might give up on trying to work fast.

Some sort of milestones or sub-tasks option might be helpful, too, to make things seem more achievable. Would be neat to carry that list over into the next session.

How about allowing a "five minute break," during which time Internet or games, or your entire system, would be available? (Maybe when you set up, you can decide how many of those will be allowed?) Since it reduces stress for me, sometime spacing out online for 5 minutes is the most efficient thing I can do.

Mandatory "take a 3-minute break now," system-wide blackouts would also actually help me. (They say, on a single task, you're most productive over the long run if you work 50 minutes and take a 10 minute break -- plus so many people have carpal tunnel and should stretch.) It wouldn't be good if the mandatory break was sudden, so maybe you choose when it happens, or could at least hit "snooze."
posted by salvia at 11:10 AM on April 11, 2006


I like JJ86's idea. I was about to add that for me, since Internet is my downfall, the best productivity helpers are to disable my wireless card, remove it completely, or turn off the wireless router.
posted by salvia at 11:11 AM on April 11, 2006


To piggyback on JJ86's idea, you should have a different wallpaper on your "work" profile than you have on your "play" profile. This helps reinforce the sensation of having separate work and play spaces, which reduces the urge to play while you are in your work space. If you have Windows XP, you might even consider having a different window theme for each profile.
posted by Ptrin at 3:56 PM on April 11, 2006


I asked a similar question last time, and the best recommendation that I got was Worktime. I downloaded the trial version for 30 days and it worked really well... as it shows the amount of time that I spend on each program opened, ie Photoshop, Word, Firefox, etc... unfortunately it costs $30 which is way out of my budget.

Any recommendations on a similar free or more affordable software would be greatly appreciated!
posted by arrowhead at 10:26 PM on April 11, 2006


"SCIROCCO Take a Break 2.7 " is a good program I use to take advantage of the 10 + 2 + 5 rule. Basically you work as hard as you can for 10 minutes, then take a break for 2 minutes and you do that for 5 times thus tricking your brain into thinking you did less work even though you breezed through 50 minutes of material. In order for this method to work correctly you need to keep proper track of time, thats where "Take a Break" comes in. It alerts you when 10 minutes is over, then can start a 2 minute timer for the break, then repeat.
posted by deeman at 6:48 AM on April 12, 2006


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