Good morning SEers, Joan here. Happy first day of Spring! I don’t know about you, but I look forward to the longer days of summer, especially those summer evenings. But I digress.
Are you a disciplined writer? I admit to being easily distracted, and it often interferes with my writing time. Here’s what an ideal writing day might look like for me.
I have the entire day to myself. I’m on vacation from my job. I don’t have any chores to do, errands to run, and I’m not expecting any visitors. My husband is at work, the cats are asleep, and I plan to write.
So, I sit down at my computer, open Scrivener, and get busy. An hour has passed, and I’ve written 2500 words.
Feeling energized, I take a short bathroom break and grab something cold from the refrigerator. The words are flowing, and I feel as if I can easily get in another 2500 before lunch. By early afternoon, I will have easily attained my 6000K word goal or maybe even more.
In a perfect world, this would be my day. But instead, a more typical one goes more like this.
First, I check my email. I’m OCD about having a clean inbox. I feel I must read, delete, or if necessary, answer emails. Depending on the number of emails, this could take anywhere from fifteen minutes to half an hour or more.
Then there is social media. “Just a quick peek at Facebook,” I tell myself. Then I get involved in a group or page discussion and before I realize it an hour has passed.
My other daily habit is to play Microsoft’s daily solitaire challenge on Zone.com. What could be better than five ways to play solitaire? Klondike, Spider, Pyramid, Tri-Peaks, and Free Cell. I can usually whiz through the easy and medium levels, but often the hard or expert levels stump me, and I keep playing until I win. Then another hour is gone.
My latest thing is YouTube videos. Again, I deceive myself into thinking I’ll only take a quick look and then move on. But it doesn’t turn out that way. Before I know it, lunchtime has arrived.
Okay – break time, then I’ll get some writing done. But afternoon comes, and I repeat my morning routine. If I’m not careful, the entire day has passed, and I may have written 500 words. If I’m lucky.
I can, and I must discipline myself. What I’m really doing is deluding myself. I’m not ashamed to admit I need help. “Just do it” doesn’t work for me. However, I found an answer, and it’s called Freedom. It’s changed my life and helped me to become more productive.
Freedom is an app you can download for PC or Mac. Once you’ve created your free account and downloaded the software, you can create block lists.
I have three block lists. One for general sites, another for games, and another for social media. I can set a block session for all my lists, or if I just want to block social media, I’ll check that one.
There are some sites you can add by checking the + sign beside the name. Also, the default block time is 25 minutes, but you can set it for 60, 120, or however long you desire. (I usually don’t set a session for longer than one hour.)
After you begin a session, you won’t be able to access the sites you’ve blocked. If you try, you’ll get a message saying the site is blocked or the connection failed. Here are a couple of screenshots for Zone.com and YouTube.
There is also an option to block all websites, but I don’t use that feature when writing. I may want to refer to a dictionary or thesaurus or use the internet for research.
If you need to end the block session early, you can do so by rebooting your computer. For instance, you may have accidentally set an eight-hour block for Facebook and need to get to the site.
And the best part about Freedom? It’s free! There is a paid version that allows you to install and run on multiple devices, but I’ve found the free version to be suitable for my needs. I can put my iPhone on airplane mode or leave it in another room if it distracts me.
If social media and other sites take away from your writing time, check out Freedom by clicking this link. (Of note, this is not an affiliate link. I wanted to share because I’ve found the app to be useful.)
Update: Thanks to one reader, I learned that Freedom no longer offers the forever free account. I was confused because I just downloaded the software on my new PC and once I deleted the old PC off my profile was able to continue. Freedom now offers a 7-day free trial, then you can choose to upgrade. My account was probably “grandfathered in” so that’s the reason I was able to continue. I apologize for any confusion, but I would still pay for Freedom because it’s worth the small price.