Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I run a three-part programme called Writing Up Your Thesis for PhD students in their 3rd year or later. It’s hybrid of a workshop on the strategic management of the final stages of thesis production and a collective writing retreat. While updating the slides from last year, I once again realise there has been quite a variety of technological attempts to combat distractions of our time. And you know how much I love list-making and categorisation…

  • Pomodroido: a timer app for the pomodoro technique for Android
  • Write or Die 2: a web app that starts to delete what you are writing if you pause for too long
  • Anti-Social: social networking block software
  • Freedom: productivity software that blocks websites and apps
  • FORCEdraft: a free text editor that won’t quit until you reach your goal
  • Coffitivity: a website that recreates the ambient sounds of a cafe (See also two hours of “library sounds” by The Guild of Ambience)
  • Writers room in Washington DC: space comparable to South Korean dokseoshil
  • Scrivener: alternative wordprocessing software, particularly good for storyboarding
  • FocusWriter: a wordprocessor that offers a simple, distraction-free writing interface (a similar feature also available in MacJournal)
  • Evgeny Morozov’s safe with a timed combination lock
    I’ve become very strategic about my use of technology as life is short and I want to use it wisely. I have bought myself a type of laptop from which it was very easy to remove the Wi-Fi card – so when I go to a coffee shop or the library I have no way to get online. However, at home I have cable connection. So I bought a safe with a timed combination lock. It is basically the most useful artefact in my life. I lock my phone and my router cable in my safe so I’m completely free from any interruption and I can spend the entire day, weekend or week reading and writing. […] To circumvent my safe I have to open a panel with a screwdriver, so I have to hide all my screwdrivers in the safe as well. So I would have to leave home to buy a screwdriver – the time and cost of doing this is what stops me. It’s not that I can’t say “no” to myself. I just waste too much energy having the internal conversation. I’d rather delegate the control to my safe and use my remaining willpower to get something done. I find it a very effective system.
  • Cell Lock-Up: a prison cell for cell phones (see also the Phone Stack, the Forest app, and the UNICEF Tap Project)
  • The ‘Three Month Thesis guru’ James Hayton’s Offline Sunday
    For me at least, the internet is a default habit. Whenever I am unsure what to do, the first thought that comes to mind is always to check email. Then while the email is loading I’ll open another tab with my second email account, then another with Facebook. Then after scanning those I’ll often open a news website, […] then back to Facebook where I’m chatting with 3 people at the same time, then I’ll notice another email has come in… [falling into a default loop of e-mail and Internet].

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