Taming the Digital Distractions

The New York Times has a funny story on new software that tries to save you from yourself. You start a workday with plenty of productive time ahead of you, but then you’re zapped from one link to the next in your in-box, and then you’re checking everything on Facebook and Twitter, then going back to your inbox, then quickly looking at your work, then ten minutes later taking another Facebook break…

Absent a boss standing over your shoulder, is there any way to get it under control? The article discusses a few programs such as RescueTime, LeechBlock, and Freedom, which either limit your time on certain websites, or block them entirely. Of course, you can always get around these programs, but at least they make you aware of what you’re doing.

When I asked people to keep time logs for 168 Hours, they were often amazed by how much time they were spending reading news online, following links, checking Facebook and so forth. Since you’re sitting at your desk on the computer, it looks like work, but it can add up fast. I’m trying to be aware of these time wasters myself, though sometimes it’s hard — today, for instance, I’m trying to come up with some column ideas, which is involving reading a lot of stuff online. Did I honestly think I was going to find a good idea at People.com? Probably not, but hey, you never know…

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