Staying Focused

restriction settings on iPhoneI fully admit to being an information and interaction junky. I feed on bits and pats on the backs to the point of bloating, and with my schedule when I’m working I need to be on point. I try to take a media fast once a year for about a month for a personal cleanse, which helps me reflect and refine on my habits. After an intense summer of posting and reading for better and worse intensely, I took a 3 month break from posting on behalf of my followers and my sanity. I’m back as of February 1, focused on professional posts, but that means back to being sure I Consume Responsibly.

Here’s what that means to me: I’m dedicated enough to put limits on my media, but I’m also clever enough to work around them. So it’s a balance to find the optimal setup for me that makes it just annoying enough to work around that I don’t. For now.

Technically, I have the ability to browse the net on my iPhone, iPad, home computer and work computer. To keep myself to the idea of working while on a computer, I have the following setup:

Tablets – iPad and Kindle

These are in my leisure class. My optimal for staying focused these days is keeping social media, news, and links to a limit and relegated to my iPad and extensive reading on my Kindle. While I have a morning routine of reading academic papers over a cup of coffee on the iPad after breakfast, other than that my iPad is purely leisure. I read work related textbooks and manuals on my Kindle, but again mainly leisure-books, textbooks and long reads for pleasure. So it’s a good mental association. On iPad or Kindle go nuts with Reading. Not on iPad or Kindle, get to work.

Computers – OS X

StayFocused Chrome extension installed

  • I don’t have other browsers installed, as I found myself cheating. I once went so low as to begin installing the text web browser Lynx before stopping in my tracks with a bit of a blush.
  • A few subdomain sites are tricky. Blocking Google news caused me to not be able to Google for a day! For these I have custom entry in /etc/hosts pointing to local host, they are simply nuked (no minutes per day).
  • at home I have a limit of 5 minutes a day, at work just 3
  • sites I block: Twitter, Facebook, HackerNews, WordPress (at work), Google News (at work), and on the chopping block is anything I end up being sucked into.

Other options I’ve tried are SelfControl, and manual blocking.  In principle you should be able to do this with Parental Controls as well. In terms of intermediate solutions, I’ve also tried a twitter commandline client, which is fun for work related posts, but I found myself checking for replies in the end. With Mavericks, OS X has twitter write only support from the notification bar, so that works fine.

Mobile Phone – iPhone

Well here was a thorny issue, after blocking sites at work, I’d find myself going back and forth to the phone. Solves the problem of computer=focused, but brought me away from the computer too often. Here I first deinstalled social apps on my phone. That didn’t work as I’d just login from the web. So here Restrictions within General Settings came to the rescue. I unfortunately can’t block sites, while allowing adult websites, but as this restriction is fairly quick to overwrite (go back to settings and enter my password) if I’m ever blocked out of hand by my own hand and can quickly rectify. For now I’ve added Facebook and Twitter’s mobile versions (basically buggier clones of the iPhone app on the web). It seems it’s a bit too dumb with subdomains so I had to manually add the different versions I might try to log in in.

Self Censoring

Ironic for someone fighting against censorship. But to do that I need to have time and energy to do that, which means staying focused while I’m at a computer (work at work and work at home), and relaxing properly when I’m not. How do you manage your social media intake? Buffet libre or portion control?

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