This article is part of The GOOD (and ReadyMade) Guide to Slowing Down, from GOOD Issue 18. Read more of the guide here.
Infinite access to media and total interconnectivity at our fingertips means it can be downright impossible to focus. For those among us who don't know how to even turn on our computers without opening five or six programs, and about 10 tabs in our browsers, we offer this roundup of focus applications, each designed to curb the ADD instinct online.SelfControl
The culture-jamming artist Steve Lambert's SelfControl application is equal parts social commentary and effective focus device. You can use the no-frills OS X download to block access to incoming and outgoing mail servers or websites (he suggests Facebook and Twitter) for a set amount of time. But once you set the timer, it cannot be disabled-and the application cannot be deleted. This is for people with serious control issues.visitsteve.com/work/selfcontrolConcentrate
This OS X app allows you to focus on a given task by blocking access to email and applications for a set amount of time, but it does so with all sorts of bells and whistles: you can sync it with Growl, have it run scripts to remove unique distractions, set up sound alerts to keep you on task, and set it to notify you of your progress with spoken messages while you work.getconcentrating.comWriteRoom and Dark Room
Writers in previous eras didn't have to fret about emails or instant messages popping up on their typewriters, and we like to believe that meant they were more productive. To emulate their singularly focused approach, the designers of WriteRoom (Mac) and Dark Room (PC) offer an app to transform your computer into a classic, minimal black screen with green text (though you may choose other colors). It fills the whole screen and offers a distraction-free environment to, as its creators put it, "help you rediscover your muse."hogbaysoftware.com/products/writeroom they.misled.us/dark-roomIllustration by Tim Lahan