A while ago, I posted about the benefit of disconnecting, and a few people have said they liked the idea. However, I know a few people have also talked about how hard they find it to do. In particular, although they may be able to turn their email popups and audio alerts off (or down to a more manageable interval), the pull of Facebook, Twitter and other social media is hard to resist, or may even be an integral part of their job roles. Nevertheless, others have told me that it is sometimes too compelling to step away, despite their best efforts. Productivity can suffer too, as I outlined in my original post.
Now, I’m not sure about how to help with the ubiquitous internet connection that is available through the our mobile devices, but there are ways to help set up your desktop computing environment to thwart your social / newshound impulses and keep you on task. Antisocial runs on Macs and turns off the social parts of the Internet, like Facebook and Twitter for the period of time that you want. You can choose the sites you want to deny access to. The catch is that once you set it up, if you want to break into the social internet that you just blocked off, you have to reboot your computer. As the promotional blurb says, “As you will feel a deep sense of shame for rebooting just to waste time on Twitter, you’re unlikely to cheat.” I’m not so sure about shame, but it’ll be a pain to wait to boot up again, and that would be deterrent enough for me and many others, I’d bet. US$15 to buy the software, but you can try it out for free.
If you have a PC, not to worry, there is a solution for you (and Mac users too) too though somewhat more drastic. Freedom does one thing. It turns off access to the Internet. Completely. You tell it how long for and that’s it, no more internet for the time period you specified. Once again, you can get around it of you reboot, but are you really going to do that? US$10 and a free trial is available.
Of course, you could go to your mobile device to get your fix, but the fact that you do this might cause you to notice that you really are off task. What a great opportunity to practice some mindful compassion and to bring yourself gently but firmly back on task.
And thanks to Kate for putting me on to these tools – in a nice twist, she found the tip on Facebook.