With reading week here, the urge to procrastinate is strong. Here are a couple tools that might keep you off Facebook and on the books.

  • Nicholas Murray Butler may not have had lolcats back in his day, but he still managed to distract himself

    Both StayFocusd for Chrome and LeechBlock for Firefox allow users to block or limit access to specific, time-wasting websites. Users must manually enter every website they wish to block for both of the sites, but StayFocusd comes with a suggested list. Lifehacker offers this guide for getting LeechBlock set up.

  • While those two work in some browsers, Concentrate is a Mac program that allows you to prevent your computer from establishing connections with entire websites, and it stops you from launching certain applications. It also lets you create a to-do list, set it to a timer, and set that timer to loom in the upper corner of your computer screen to mock your inactivity. Concentrate normally costs $29 but there a 60-hour free trial is available on the website. Enough to hammer out a paper.
  • SelfControl is like a bare-bones version of Concentrate, but with a twist: Once you start blocking certain websites, you can’t unblock them—even if you uninstall the application. You’ll just have to wait.
  • Write or Die is definitely the most sadistic tool in Bwog’s chest. After setting your wordcount goals, the program tracks your productivity. If your mind starts wandering and you fingers stop typing, the program punishes you. In the most extreme mode, it will begin deleting what you’ve already written. The site offers a free browser-based version and a desktop copy for $10.
  • RescueTime, which is compatible with almost all browsers, tracks the amount of time you spend online on different sites, calculates the percentage of that time spent “distracted browsing,” and compares that number to other users to come up with a “you’re more productive than __% of people” statistic. While the site automatically marks procrastination favorites like YouTube and Facebook, it’s up to you to tweak the settings to catch more obscure sites. It also assumes time spent on Gmail is time spent productively. Tsk, tsk RescueTime.

All of this software is highly customizable, which creates the risk of  metaprocrastinating by experimenting with these porgrams’ many bells and whistles. Ultimately, the power is yours; you can turn off all of these programs just as easily as you can install them. Good luck and remember––no app can substitute for the caustic pressuring glare of an angry stranger.

Old-fangled distraction via Wikimedia Commons