I’ve been using Freedom for the last couple of weeks, with interesting results.

Freedom is an app that helps you control distractions by blocking the internet, apps and websites — or any combination of those. You can start a freedom session whenever you like, or schedule a session for the future. It supports recurring sessions too. You have complete control over how long you want sessions to be, and what distractions you want to block.

I started off with a few ‘on the fly’ sessions for an hour and chose the default freedom blocklist (blocks the most common social and news websites). I used the time to write and work on a personal project. Whilst I felt urges to procrastinate on the internet and check twitter, I wasn’t able to. I definitely felt more focused and productive and was able to concentrate for the whole hour.

Co-incidentally, I also noticed this tweet from Neil Strauss recently:

I’ve no idea how accurate this is, but it feels pretty accurate. I felt the last 30 – 40 mins of the hour session was better work. I managed to build some momentum and get in the flow. My guess is, a focused hour is probably more productive than an entire morning with distractions.

As I mentioned in Two years without a smartphone, I’ve found myself using my laptop to replace some of the addictive behaviour I used to do on a smartphone. So, for the last few days, I’ve been working to the following 3 recurring freedom sessions:

  • 8:30 am – 1:30 pm
  • 2:30 pm – 7:00 pm
  • 7:30 pm – 8:00 am

During the above times, I use a tweaked version of the default freedom blocklist (a few extra added). That means for 22 hours a day, I’m unable to freely access the internet. I only get 2 hours of completely free access.

I’ve noticed three things so far:

  • I’ve got more done, because I’m able to get more deeply into a task.
  • I enjoy using the sites that used to distract me, more. Checking twitter twice a day for a total of an 30 mins, is way nicer than checking it 10 times a day, for an average of 3 minutes.
  • I am more present and focused at home.

Of course, both myself and the system are far from perfect. I still need to figure out the optimal way to use freedom. I’ve had to override a session a couple of times for an urgent email or call. Shortly after, I would find myself slipping back into old habits — which were instantly corrected when the next session kicked in.

I’m going to experiment a bit and hopefully settle on the right schedule for me. I also want to test blocking the internet entirely. I’m thinking a scheduled session — probably at the weekend. I’ll report back when I’ve settled on something that works.

If you’re interested in this type of thing, here are a few great reads, along the same lines:

How to write a million words – on a slacker’s schedule (post) — Nate Green

Digital Sabbath (post) — Brad Feld

Deep Work (book) – Cal Newport

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