Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The need for Freedom

No, this post probably isn't about what you think.

When we got back from our vacation, I was all ready to tear into my various jobs with all the laser-like focus and high-charged enthusiasm of one who had been recharging for a month. Alas, as I have amply documented here, various life dramas arose which, while all completely manageable, turned my life into a herky-jerky existence in which I was constantly erasing things from my calendar and replacing them with "vet" or "contractor" or "take VW in AGAIN." I just could not get into a groove.

Yesterday, at the part-time job that I never talk about here because I can't find a way to do so with the appropriate degree of discretion, the internet actually went out for two hours. Two whole hours! And you know? I think I got more done in those two hours than I have in the whole two weeks that we've been home.

So maybe my heavily interrupted life cannot be entirely blamed for my lack of productivity. Perhaps, just perhaps, I am also my own biggest interrupter, too easily lured by the distractions of the internet. Sure, I've turned off those instantaneous email alerts. But still. Especially now that I have recently and reluctantly joined my friends in Facebook. And for the job-that-shall-not-be-named, I think I may have to break down and learn about this whole Twitter thing. Dangerous interruption territory.

So at least at home, I think I need to resort to a little program that I downloaded several months ago, when I was trying to put in some focused effort on my book project and discovered that Writing is Hard. Freedom for Mac allows you to disable Internet access for a set a period of time. Once you activate Freedom, and tell it how many minutes of Freedom you would like, the only way to get the Internet back is to reboot your computer. Which is doable, of course, but is enough of a barrier to pretty much eliminate the urge to cheat. Once Freedom is activated, it does not even allow you to open Freedom again until your Freedom time is up.

Sad, I know, that intelligent and hardworking people should have to resort to this kind of externally imposed willpower. It's easy to find numerous testimonials professing that Freedom has saved someone's personal, professional or creative lives. "To say that it's changed my life is an understatement!" "I would never have finished my [book, album, article for prestigious publication] without Freedom."

Much as I love it, this is what the Internet has done to us. We've had to invent our own Internet Mom who can force us to turn that damn thing off and finish your homework.

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