Ever since reading John Tierney’s article on the science of concentration and Rapt, the book it discusses, I’ve been very interested in finding ways to cut down on distractions and find large blocks of time to focus on one thing. So this recent NY Times piece on taming your digital distractions was right up my alley.

Tired of getting sucked into Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the like, the author spent a few weeks trying out “a slate of programs to tame these digital distractions …

The apps break down into three broad categories. The most innocuous simply try to monitor my online habits in an effort to shame me into working more productively. Others reduce visual bells and whistles on my desktop as a way to keep me focused. And then there are the apps that really mean business — they let me actively block various parts of the Internet so that when my mind strays, I’m prohibited from giving in to my shiftless ways. It’s the digital equivalent of dieting by locking up the refrigerator and throwing away the key.

He concludes that none of them helped him much, and I think I’d have the same experience. But I am going to try out RescueTime.

The biggest time-suck for me is email, and when I’ve been able to follow Tim Ferriss’s suggestion to only check it twice a day, my productivity skyrockets. It’s just very hard to stick to it. Maybe one of these tools will help.