Normally I'd sing the praises of social media and how it can help you spread the good word about your beautiful blog. But let's be real, social media is one of the most distracting activities at work, school, on the road, and life in general. How can you focus on creating and editing your next post when there are tweets to read, things to Pin and Instagrams to like?
It's hard not to let a few minutes or hours slip away on social media while most of us find ourselves staring at a computer screen or have a smartphone in hand all day. Luckily, there are a few inventive minds out there who've designed software programs to help you stay off the internet and focused on the task at hand. If you're looking for a little forced peace and quiet from social media, here are some of the front-runners:
Freedom is far and away the most popular tool to help you stay productive. Simply set your “timer” for up to 8 hours a time, and it'll block your internet on your computer. The downside is that there isn't a mobile option (unfortunately, there isn't any kind of blocking option for mobile internet), and it blocks you from the entire internet, which can be a hassle if you need the web to do research. Freedom works for Windows and Mac, and costs $10 to use.
Anti-Social is the sister tool to Freedom, made by the same developer and working pretty much in the exact same manner, except that it only blocks distracting social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. You can also give Anti-Social a list of other distracting sites to block you from. If you're on Windows, however, you'll have to sit tight – Anti-Social is currently Mac-only while its Windows counterpart is under development.
Rescue Time is a free app that acts more as a productivity tracker than internet blocker. Download the app onto your computer, then fill out a short online questionnaire to help the app determine what sites are distractions for you and which are not. It'll spit out a weekly report that gives you a rundown of how you've spent your time online. Rescue Time is great if you don't want to commit to a blocker, and plan to be more proactive in controlling how you spend your time online.
Cold Turkey is a Windows-only blocker app that allows you to stay off the internet anywhere from ten minutes to a whole month. You can choose from a list of popular sites to block, or provide your own list. Cold Turkey has a “pay what you can” system, and part of the proceeds benefit charity. Help yourself and help others too!
SelfControl is the Mac cousin of Cold Turkey that's free and simple to use. Some say the downside to this is that you can't stop the timer once it's going – but chances are, you could use that time off the internet anyway! I also appreciate SelfControl's FAQ/Help forum, which addresses a ton of common concerns and questions.
FocusMe came up in search results but to be honest, I have not seen many reviews or other news about the Windows-only app, compared to many (fairly positive) reviews about the four I've already listed. Looks like FocusMe gives you the option of blocking just some or all of the internet for a period of time.
Firefox & Chrome Plug-ins
LeechBlock, StayFocusd and Nanny for Chrome are all great options for you to plug into your favorite browser (assuming it's either Firefox or Chrome.) They allow you to block certain websites within a specific time period, or to set a specific number of allotted hours for a site (i.e. 2 hours max on Facebook.)
Have you used any of these apps or other methods to control your time on social media? Let us know in a comment!