I’ve been thinking lately about the recent out pouring of our web applications to replace Microsoft Office applications like Word and Excel and what I realized was this: Whenever I find myself sitting in front of a Word Document or an Excel Spreadsheet, I’m usually in a position of having to do something I don’t want to do but need to do. Whether it’s finishing up an article, looking over legal documents, or creating a financial projections I am in a struggle for focus. The Internet is the number one distractor. People interrupting is number two. And so when I hear about IM integration and collaborative documents…I’m afraid. I hate design by committee. I hate manage by committee. I want to know what I needs to be done quickly and be left alone to get it done.

What I would like (and I guess this is a lazy web request) is a piece of software that’s in sync with my to do list or calendar deadlines and starts to throttle back my bandwidth or Internet usage as I get closer to said deadline or milestone. Three days before a deadline I want it to prevent access to sites like YouTube and any blog in my feedreader’s opml. They day before the deadline, I want it to make browsing anything except Wikipedia and .edu / .gov web sites really slow—dial up slow. I want it to start blocking people from my IM list (people that are obviously not work related and people that show patterns of high interruptions). I want hold back emails from friends until I answer a certain quota of work related emails. Hours before, depending on the project, I might even want this software to shut off access to the Internet completely.

And it doesn’t have to stop at punishments. I want to earn distraction time. Hook up to any one of the hundreds of time tracker sites out there and reward me with 30 minutes of unblemished bandwidth and a list of sweet links from the tops of del.ici.ous, reddit and digg for every 2 to 3 hours of work I accomplish.

Everyone talks about and creates strategies and software that helps with GTD. I need software that forces GTD.

HTML Form Builder
Kevin Hale

What I Really Need to GTD by Kevin Hale

This entry was posted 4 years ago and was filed under Notebooks.
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  1. Rob McAlister · 4 years ago

    My Dream App had an application competing called Blossom that gave on-screen feedback based on productivity vs. goofing off. It wouldn’t block or limit access to distractions, but I liked the idea of being able to see how well I’m doing with working instead of wasting.

  2. Julius · 4 years ago

    When it comes down to it, CMD + Q is the best thing that works for me. Though, on a side note, I apologize for being one of those guys that spam your IM for no reason.

    Would it be completely out of the question to have separate accounts for work and play? It may be a bit difficult for those working out of home, but it definitely helps me sort out my digital communications, especially with email.

  3. CM Harrington · 4 years ago

    Nothing in the universe will force you to do work. You have to discipline yourself not to hit YouTube. Some “training wheels” that may help:

    Create a new user in your operating system, if you’re on MacOS, you can limit access to applications, etc. Do so. Suddenly, you don’t have any of your bookmarks, nor feeds, etc.

    At the office, place an “I am not here” sign at your desk/cube/office door. Totally ignore people who try and talk to you. If they persist, point (don’t speak), to the sign.

    Offices are noisy, especially mine. We’re in a loft, and we have no soft surfaces. I can hear whispers at the other end of the space. To fix that, I purchased a pair of Sure E4c in-ear noise isolating headphones. I then use an application called “Noise” (see Macupdate for “noise”) to play white/pink noise. Suddenly, you’re totally isolated from the outside world.

    Good luck.

  4. Gabriel · 4 years ago

    My last resort is usually to switch off Airport Express.

  5. Jeroen · 4 years ago

    Sharing Office documents is great, and viewing them online, but right now it just doesnt do it, it so slow it actually forces me into distraction.

    Shutting off the phone and internet access…bliss!

  6. Julian Schrader · 4 years ago

    Everytime I really need to do something, I start TimeLog to track the time — if I know there’s something counting the time I need to get the work done, I find myself focusing much better on the work.

  7. Simon de Haan · 4 years ago

    Tools like writeroom & the megazoom SIMBL plugin for mac osx (http://ianhenderson.org/megazoomer.html) help me out, that and quitting IM & Mail

  8. Michael Montgomery · 4 years ago

    Dave Seah, of the “Printable CEO” fame, has developed the “Emergent Task Timer”, which is an online “what did I do today?” app.:

    http://davidseah.com/ http://davidseah.com/tools/ett/alpha/

  9. Nick · 4 years ago

    Try Vitalist (www.vitalist.com). I dig it.

  10. Bob Walsh · 4 years ago

    Rather than punishing yourself, I’d suggest you need to get to the root of the problem: managing your attention, and your relationship with attention. If people were as bad spending money as they are spending their attention, 99% of the online world would be bankrupt.

    That said, help is on the way!

  11. Wayne Sutton · 4 years ago

    It’s all about the internet, unless you’re working on a website, we need to stay disconnected to get some projects done. Lately the internet has been my biggest detraction and causing procrastination.

    See my blog post here: http://www.wayne-sutton.com/blog/index.php?p=331

    GTD works great we just need more self discipline.

  12. Way · 4 years ago

    I like this program. Its called Do Not Disturb. it blocks programs i.e. your web browser or any other programs you specify and/or websites for a time period you specify. then you get busy and cant surf or open programs you blocked. http://www.seeplain.com/donotdisturb.htm