A colleague once defined “work” as “that which you accomplish while not distracted by the internet,” and he was onto something. Anyone who works on a computer understands how easily personal communication (e-mail, instant messaging, social networks, etc.) can distract from the task at hand.
Eyebeam Lab’s Steve Lambert, creator of Add-Art and co-creator of the New York Times spoof, released an application over the weekend that solves the problem: SelfControl, a simple open-source program for Mac OS X that prevents you from resorting to well-worn procrastination techniques by blocking access to websites and e-mail servers.
“I made it because I found I checked my e-mail almost subconsciously, even when I wanted to focus,” said Lambert via e-mail. “It was just too easy.”
SelfControl runs a blacklist to which you can add specific sites, incoming mail servers and/or outgoing mail servers. This lets you customize the program to block only your personal time sinks while maintaining access to whatever you need for work or school.
“For example, you could block access to your e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter for 90 minutes,” reads the description, “but still have access to the rest of the web.”
It’s about time. Social networking addicts with enough self control to install the program will surely thank him, e-mail access permitting.