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The logo is gross, but the features are great.

The logo is gross, but the features are great.

Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16, NASB

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes need a little help focusing on a task. When I’m doing housework, for example, it really helps me to plug in an audiobook on my iPod to keep my mind occupied so I don’t get distracted. Otherwise, I tend to flit from one job to another without finishing anything. The same applies to my writing time.

For me, the ultimate distraction is the internet. It’s so. . .endless. My favorite social networking site is always calling my name. If I get on to check my comments, I can easily be lost down the rabbit hole for an hour — when I <i>should</i> be writing. And I really can’t afford to lose one second of valuable writing time — I’m still pretty much limited to nap time at this point.I blogged earlier about creating an alternate user account, and that’s one good option. But I’ve found something else that helps, too.

LeechBlock is a Firefox addon (You do use Firefox, don’t you?) that helps manage where and when you spend your online time. With it you can create different groupings of websites that are time wasters for you, and then put limits on them. You can assign hours when those sites are off limits, or you can limit the amount of time you spend on them.

And when you really have to get some writing knocked out, you can do a LeechBlock lock down. This lets you completely block any or all of the sites in your lists for a certain amount of time. This would be great if you’ve set a word count challenge for yourself.

The thing I like best about LeechBlock is that it’s specific. I can block only the sites that give me trouble without blocking sites I use while writing, like Thesaurus.com. Of course, even reference sites can end up being time wasters — you just have to decide how much you need to limit yourself.

LeechBlock, like Firefox is 100% free. If you haven’t tried Firefox, I highly recommend it. I’ve been using it as my primary browser for over a year now, and I’ve never looked back.

I have no idea if there’s anything similar for Explorer. If you’re an explorer user, and know of a way to put controls on your time spent on certain sites, add it to the comments, won’t you?

For those of you who use Mac, Freedom lets you completely disable your wireless (or Ethernet) internet connection for a certain period of time. That kind of lock down is a little hard core, but it might be just what you need to make yourself get the pages knocked out.

Do you have any favorite software that keeps you on track while you’re writing?

~LW

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So many times when I sit down to write, I’ll do a “quick check” of my e-mail, and spend 30 minutes deleting, organizing, replying, and following links—thirty minutes, gone. Or I’ll hit a temporary dead end in a scene, and take a break by checking a couple of favorite websites, and lose a whole hour before I remember “Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be writing!”

I’ve come up with a fairly simple way to avoid this kind of distraction. I’ve created an alternate user account for my computer. When I’m serious about getting some writing done, I log in using my pen name instead of my real name. My alternate identity doesn’t have Outlook set up. It doesn’t have my bookmarks list. It does still have Internet access, so that I can check words at Thesaurus.com, or do any other relevant research, but I’ve blocked my most tempting sites with Firefox Ad Block.

If you still want to be able to access your writing from your main account, use the Shared Files folder. Just make sure that both accounts have administrative privileges, or you won’t be able to save any changes to your work while you’re using the limited account.

I am a Windows user, so I don’t know if this would work with a Mac or Linux OS, since I’m not familiar with those systems.

Of course, this doesn’t make it impossible to get distracted, but it does make it a lot harder, and most of the time that’s all I need to stay on track.

~Deena

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