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A few years ago I started using an application for macOS called Focus, which allows you to block applications and websites for a period of time.

Focus Site

On getting a new laptop, I never got round to installing it, despite its usefulness.

The negativity rabbit hole.

With the recent COVID-19 pandemic (leaving a note for those reading this post in 20 years from now and not being born yet), it has become extremely difficult to avoid a constant flow of negative news. While it is certainly important to know what is going on, the media currently has a very strong focus on making sure every article is negative.

I’m sure it’s not easy to find positivity in the current climate, yet at the same time, I’m even more certain many don’t even try. Bad news makes great headlines. Headlines sell! Of course one should wonder what it is anyone is actually selling these days given we’re all confined to our homes and consumer economy around the world has essentially shut down. However, that’s another question.

This constant negativity can end up draining you emotionally and mentally. I recently found myself in this situation. I’d get up in the morning, read the news, and already this would set me up in a bad spot. I’d start work, forget for a while, and yet during every pause, I’d check Twitter or some news site and then end up again with negative emotions.

I decided it was time to stop, which is where Focus came to the rescue.

I’ve now installed Focus again and have a schedule that blocks certain applications and websites from 7 am in the morning until 5 pm.

Focus Site Block

You can add as many websites as you like, albeit it already comes with a good list (of bad habits) to begin with.

Focus Site Block

Is it working?

For now, it seems to be, yes! I can tell you that in the past 2-3 weeks since I’ve installed it, not only has my mood improved, but I also feel like I’m getting more done. The app in fact allows me to take small breaks (up to 30 minutes during the entire period), and while initially I found I was using this to its maximum extent, lately I don’t even use much of this time. About the only time I do use the break is if I need to access Twitter for some reason (yes, that includes tweeting this post).

Of course, I can still use my phone to access any site (and Twitter), but again I’ve found that not having that habit of “let me just open up a news site while I’m waiting for this to build”, has really helped me.

Many of you may not need, as you may have a native application built-in (called discipline). But for those of us that sometimes struggle, I’d suggest you give it a try!