Concentration and the Internet

A few tips to quickly share.

I am easily distracted, and easily inspired. As a result I’ll be in the middle of a thesis paragraph when I’ll jump over to a web browser [note how its constantly running] where I’ll end up reading random news websites (well, not random at all… actually I read terrible annoying right wing news sites that get my blood boiling. Sites like and msnbc. I read other sites too, but these two I consider a waste of time when compared to a beautiful anthropology thesis.)

It turns out I’m not alone. Websites, social media, the internet, iphones, etc, have all been merging into annoyingly busy interfaces.  From this page where I write a blog post, I can twitter. I can see my inbox (all 3 of them). My battery has 39 minutes remaining. I should turn on some battery saving feature no? Oh wait I was writing. That’s right!

There are solutions. Improve your concentration with this Google Chrome App. “Writespace” turns your browser (online or off) into a beautiful black screen. Hit f11 to maximize it into full screen and there it is. A blank black screen. A clear white font. I love it. It reminds me of my days playing diku muds. Why a black screen? No distractions. Just a page to write on.

Another great one – “Stayfocusd”. This app let’s you create a list of websites you waste too much time on, and then it blocks the sites after you spend more than 10 minutes (or whatever you configure) on them. Perfect for stupid news sites, facebook, etc.  Try giving yourself more time and the program opens up a page on procrastination! Love it.

You may now return to work.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for these suggestions. I am thinking about going back to a notepad or a typewriter, since I too have the bad habit of getting bogged down by reading (and sometimes writing lengthy responses on) various political sites/blogs. Complete time-suck.

    -someone who is supposed to be writing the last paper of the semester instead of wandering around the interwebs.


  2. Hey thanks for droppin in and procrastinating with me. The more the merrier!

    – Currently not writing last chapter of the thesis “new audiences, new participants, new ways of speaking”.


  3. Good to know this.

    -someone who is currently being sucked back into Owen’s blog when he was trying to finish reading the final pages of the thesis draft.


  4. By the way, how did your blog get to look so “fine and perty”? I meant to ask before. Have you been altering the CSS code?


  5. Dear Max,

    No CSS editing on this end! I’m a fan for a clean and simple template that gets updated without me having to get involved.

    At the same time, I’ve done numerous CSS edit jobs for other sites (check out

    See you soon,


  6. Posted by Liz Marks on January 17, 2011 at 1:28 am

    I actually use a mac app called “Freedom”. It blocks your net access for however long you specify. In order to disable it you’d have to reboot your computer entirely. The only time I don’t wind up resorting to it while working is when I need to use the ‘net for work or be able to chat with my spouse for some reason.
    I’ll procrastinate on my RSS feed half of the day if I let myself! And many of the sites I follow are too horrible to mention in this public place 😉


  7. Posted by Dylan on January 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I use a mac app called self control. Works great too.


  8. Posted by Lex on January 17, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Great advice. I love that you pretty much have to be an anthropologist procrastinating on their work to even find this page.


  9. Thanks all for the recommendations and comments. It’s a wonderful feeling of solidarity to be among so many procrastinators.


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