Cold Turkey: The Free Productivity Program

If you’ve ever gotten to the end of your workday and wondered where it went, perhaps you should consider whether your productivity has been derailed because of the allure of the Internet. It happens very innocently and way too easily. You open your browser and something catches your eye on your home page. Maybe it is a news item, or maybe it is a message from a Facebook friend. Whatever it is, you click on it and then you see something else that you need to check out. 30 clicks and 30 webpages later, you realize that what was a planned 2 minute distraction turned into a 2 hour loss of time.

Don’t worry, it’s happened to all of us and frankly, because I am a person full of curiosity, it is something I have to constantly battle. But now, you can get some help in the battle to regain your productivity. It’s a program for Windows computers called “Cold Turkey.”

Cold Turkey is a free, open-source software tool that helps you control your internet surfing impulses. You download it and install it on your computer and then you can choose to block (on a temporary basis) your favorite websites that often are gateway sites to greater time wasting. The download is less than 1 megabyte in size and once downloaded, simply run the installation and accept the defaults. At the end of the installation, the program will ask you if you want to start the program. If you do, you’ll see the following screen:

Cold Turkey Main Screen

Click for a larger view

All you have to do is check a few boxes, add a few custom sites that you like to visit, set how long you want to block yourself from visiting those sites and then click the “Go Cold Turkey” button at the bottom. The program even graciously will help you update your Facebook status to let your friends know that you’ll be working for a while before you check out.

I’m going to give this program a try myself and I’ll report back what my results were!

Here are some details from the Cold Turkey website:

Cold Turkey is a free/open source program that you can use to temporarily block yourself off of popular social media sites, addicting websites, online games and whatever else you want!

Cold Turkey has several unique features:

  • Computer-wide: the blocking features are computer-wide, which will affect all browsers on the computer.
  • Durability: the ability to block yourself in intervals of 10 minutes up to a full week (free) or a whole month (serious edition)!
  • Situational Awareness: when the computer is turned off, it will still keep track of the time that passed by.
  • No Touchy: if Cold Turkey detects that its security features are being tampered with (hard to do), it will block you for a week.
  • Invincibility: Cold Turkey can’t be stopped easily as it is not stoppable from the system tray or the task manager.

Although this program does a pretty good job physically blocking you from distractions, it also changes the way you think when you are working on your computer. You will find that when being blocked, you will have more motivation and pay more attention to your work, since there won’t be distractions available to you.

Be sure to read the FAQ page completely before deciding to give this a try, but if you need to bring some discipline to your work computer, this might be a great way to gently remind yourself to GET BACK TO WORK! 🙂

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