I haven't been blogging much because I have been in midterm-mode, writing paper after paper. One thing has greatly assisted my productivity during this stressful time: Freedom. Not "freedom," the enduring concept, but Freedom, an application for Mac that blocks your computer's access to the internet for up to eight hours at a time. You may have read about it recently (as I did) in the New York Times Magazine. Once you open Freedom, a window asks you "how many minutes of freedom do you want?" and when you enter your desired time, Freedom blocks your internet access for that long. You can't get desperate and quit the program; the only way to override Freedom is to restart your computer. I'm not going to say I've never cracked and done the restart, but it is certainly a deterrent.
The amazing result: free from email, Twitter, Facebook, the New York Times, and Googling every person, place or thing that pops in my head, I can actually concentrate and write.
Using Freedom has made me more mindful of just how much my mind craves distraction, even when I am supposedly "focused" on a task. I still find myself reflexively clicking on my browser whenever the sentence I am trying to write escapes me. My mind thinks, "I can't figure out how to word this idea... hmm... let me go check my email/10 websites and come back to this..." Only with Freedom running, my browser gives me an error message and prevents the bad habit. It is like a subtle kick in the pants that says, "Not so fast, stick with it, get back to work."
Mac users, try out Freedom at macfreedom.com. It's free!