Today I’m going to tell you about one of the best purchases I’ve made in quite some time. It wasn’t expensive, nor was it something tangible that I can photograph and show you. Actually, I really wouldn’t even call it a purchase. It’s more like an investment. In myself. In eliminating distractions.
It’s called the Freedom App. And if you work from home, it’s indispensable.
For as long as Man (this one) has had the Internet (social media), he has sought ways to turn it off. And every time Man has unplugged the router (rarely), he quickly discovered he was in need of it (Wikipedia).
And then one day a butterfly fluttered into his life, offering the promise of scheduled block lists, customizable sessions, and even the ability to schedule a complete, irreversible Internet shutdown. Man was smitten.
The Freedom App can be installed on multiple devices and configured to allow different levels of Internet access per device, per time of day, should you choose. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. A demo is available which allows you to use the app free of charge for a half-dozen sessions. My suggestion: spread those sessions out over a few days and watch the discount offers flow in. After a week or two of sporadic use, I finally cashed in a 50% off coupon for a lifetime subscription. Best $60 I spent in a long while.
Freedom comes pre-equipped with a basic social media block list. You can either add to the list of blocked sites or make your own separate one. I simply added a half-dozen guilty pleasures to the existing list, including Gmail (no email!), Amazon (no KDP stalking!), Deadspin (the snark can wait!) and FiveThirtyEight (I love you Nate Silver!). I have a 3-hour session go active on the laptop in my writing office every morning at 7am. Freedom leaves me free to access the Internet for research and reference — to work, in other words — but keeps me from falling down the rabbit hole.
I have the app installed on my gaming PC as well, but I only activate it manually as needed. As for my phone, I simply put it on Priority Only whenever I’m working.
Freedom can be deactivated at any time by simply right-clicking the icon in the tray (Windows) and quitting the application. Double-click the icon to launch it again. If this is too convenient for your weak-willed ways, then you can opt to use Locked Mode which makes it impossible to interrupt an active session. I haven’t had to take that drastic of a step. I’ve so far even managed to avoid looking at my phone.
- How to Make Morning Routines A Habit for All-Day Productivity – This quick article from the Freedom App Blog has some nice tips on keeping your productivity rolling throughout the day. Critical decisions first, tough projects next, exercise… it all adds up to getting a lot done, but finishing the day on an upswing, guilt-free and ready to enjoy the evening.
- 4 Writing Routine Myths That Kill Creativity – Tyler Moss may have been working on his first novel when he wrote this article, but he was wise beyond his experience. I made my original foray into novel writing with many of the same self-imposed rules and beliefs he mentions, only to discard them one by one within a few months. Though, as I alluded to above, I do get my ass-in-seat every morning by 7. That works for me. Your mornings may vary.
- Maxims and Mottoes From Masters of One-Liners – A reading list for the true bibliophiles among you. James Geary (TED Talk here) includes a list of books from other authors about the literary life, proverbs, aphorisms, and the art of being quotable. This is probably the headiest of the articles I’ve linked to. You’ve been warned.
- Dreamy Illustrations for Book Lovers by Jungho Lee – Colossal never fails to inspire and amaze and it is, by far, my favorite Facebook page to follow. This collection of illustrations by Jungho Lee, winner of the World Illustration Awards, plays wonderful tricks on your mind and imagination using books as props in magical settings.
- E-Book Cover Design Awards, August 2016 – Joel Friedlander’s monthly cover design critiques is one of my favorite reads, not only for the winners, but for the examples of designs that just don’t work. Whether it’s with a trad publisher or a hired designer, I want to make sure I can convey the elements I want to see in my covers. There aren’t a lot of opportunities to see professional criticism in bulk, and this is one I rarely miss.
The Collector: Robin Williams – The link du jour, I hesitated to post it but since many of my readers are cyclists (or fans of) and everyone I know has enjoyed elements of Robin Williams’ career, I decided to include it. As we all know, Robin Williams died not long ago, but we didn’t know was that he was an avid collector of bicycles. His children are auctioning his bicycles to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. There’s 10 days left to bid on any one of dozens of rare, high-end, and unusual bicycles. There’s one or two I may have raised a paddle for, alas Robin Williams was quite a bit shorter than me and his bikes are too small.