Distraction-Proof Your Desktop

Distraction-Proof Your Desktop

6. Compose Full Screen

If you spend a fair amount of time slinging words together, WriteRoom ($24.95) speeds this process by transforming your Mac into a first-generation word processor, circa 1988. WriteRoom will automatically replace your Desktop with a black screen and a green cursor. To reveal the menu bar, drag the pointer to the top of the screen. To restore your Desktop, press Escape. For the ultimate no-nonsense writing machine, add WriteRoom to your login items (see step 3).


WriteRoom’s full-screen writing environment provides more than just a walk down memory lane for fans of stand-alone word processors.


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7. Log Your Time with Active Timer

If the first step in correcting a problem is admitting it, then Active Timer (free) may be just the wake-up call you need. To keep tabs on how well you stay on task, install Active Timer and click the Start button to begin recording how much time you spend working in each application. Allow Active Timer to record your idle time as a separate item, or click Pause to halt the recording.


Active Timer records both the amount of time you use an application and the amount of time you spend working on individual documents inside that app.


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8. Create a Restricted User Account

If the first seven steps aren’t enough to keep you focused, this one is guaranteed. OS X’s parental controls are designed to keep kids out of trouble, but they’re equally adept at keeping you on task.


Open System Preferences, and select Accounts. Create a new account by clicking the plus sign under the account list on the left. Assign the new account a username and password. Under the Parental Controls tab, check the box next to Finder & System, and click Configure. In the resulting menu, check the box next to “This user can only use these applications.” Click the arrow next to Applications, and click Uncheck All. Then, add checks next to those few applications that are essential for your work. (Our work account, for example, allows only WriteRoom and the Dictionary.) Finally, click OK, log into the new account, and enjoy your newfound productivity.


Restricting the applications in your work account is the most drastic way to eliminate distractions, but it’s also the most effective.




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To take item #1 to the next level, turn off the "Check for updates automatically" setting in all your applications, then use VersionTracker to do the checking for you in one batch. You can do this manually, say, once every month. It will prevent those "An update is available" messages from popping up unexpectedly.

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