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7 Tools for Blocking Distractions

Noise cancelling headphones

Photo courtesy of Audio-Technica via Creative Commons

Today, social media are an important component of a writer’s life, but it’s equally important to know when to turn them off. For some of us, this is no easy task, which is why we need a little help to keep the distractions at bay. Here are a few really wonderful tools to help you do just that.



If you’re like me and have trouble lasting more than 10 minutes without checking your email, you need Freedom. Formally MacFreedom, Freedom is now available for PCs and is a steal at $10. I’d happily pay 10x the cost for the number of times (hundreds) that Freedom has allowed me to get a day’s work done when I otherwise would have been googling and shopping and checking email.


2. Antisocial

If you absolutely need to be on the Internet for research, Antisocial, another app by the man who brings us Freedom, allows you to block websites of your choice. For example, you can block Facebook and Twitter and Google+ while allowing yourself access to the rest of the Internet. This doesn’t work for me. If I’m blocked from half the Internet, I’ll suddenly remember something extremely important that I must do on the other half (today it was shopping for bookbinding supplies because, you know, I’ve been meaning to get back to that since 2006). And my feeling is that if I’m writing, I’m writing. I can do the research later, during my non-writing time. But it’s nice to have the option to block some sites and not others if you really must be online.


3. Do Not Disturb

If you have an iPhone and don’t want to be distracted by the buzzing of incoming texts and voicemails when your phone is on silent, you can go into your Settings where there’s a feature called Do Not Disturb. Turn it on, and incoming calls and alerts will be silenced. If you want to silence all calls except those from a particular person or persons, you can add them to your Favorites list and only allow calls and messages from Favorites to get through. You can also allow repeated calls from the same person within three minutes to come through while silencing all others. That way if someone calls or texts you multiple times with an emergency, you’ll hear their second call.


4. Turn off the email on your phone

Again if you’re an iPhone user, you can go into your Settings, click on Mail, Contacts, and Calendars, select the email account you want to turn off, then drag the button next to “Mail” to off. That will temporarily turn off your email. If you have multiple email accounts connected to your phone, you’ll have to turn each one off separately, but that will take just a second per account. Just don’t forget to turn them back on again when you’re done working.


5. Noise cancelling headphones

Bose noise cancelling headphones are the Mercedes in this category. I don’t have a pair, but I know writers who swear by them. I’ve tried them, and they’re lightweight and comfortable and block most noise around you, so you can get work done on a bus or a plane or in your house if the kids are playing in the next room. At $299, they’re not cheap, but your sanity is worth it.


6. Construction earmuffs

These are heavier and tighter than Bose, but for $21, they’re a great low-cost alternative to expensive noise cancelling headphones. I had a pair and loved them. Then someone stole them, and I never got around to buying a second pair. Maybe it’s time.


7. Earplugs

I’ve tried a lot of earplugs, and the ones that work the best are the silicone earplugs that you roll into balls and seal over the outside of your ear. If you put them on right, they do a great job of blocking out noise and are much more portable and less conspicuous than construction earmuffs. That said, it takes me several tries to get them to stay, and throwing on a pair of headphones or earmuffs would be an easier, quicker solution.

What about you? Are you as easily distracted as I am? What tips and tricks do you use to avoid distractions?

15 comments to 7 Tools for Blocking Distractions

  • jennygunn11

    I don’t feel like this that at the present time anybody wants to be antisocial although everybody wants more social because they get more fame and they are in touch with your family and friend and also students take Assignment Writing Assistance from their teacher.I think it’s enough to describe my point.

  • John Kushner

    yeah this is also been very important to be more secure with regard to the different tips and the ideas and these will surely help in the future too, looking forward the best and efficient use to that. Visit buy mobile phones online for Best Service Online.

  • Loved reading this post because I always feel distracted when doing my job. I need couple of these, especially the noise filtering headphones because mostly I work from home and even sometime I work when travelling. Being a marketer and digital marketing coach, I am seeing lots of benefits of using these apps, tools and hardware. Thanks for sharing this.

  • christicorbett

    Social media sites are my writing downfall, so I really appreciate the first two on this list. My twins just finished their basketball season, and I found myself getting a ton of work done during their practices because the gym had no WiFi 😀

  • charlesdevon

    I have read few of the articles on your website, and I really like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorites blog site list and will be checking back soon.

  • aditi raychoudhury

    Thanks for this post ! I need some of those tools 😉

  • Thanks for given wonderful article.

  • I am using LeechBlock for my distractions control it is a best tool for firefox user who wants to take control over sites and apps.this tool has great feature of full lockdown during emergency.

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