Concentrate is a Mac only app. It lets you do a number of things like block web sites, launch apps, play sounds, etc. Combinations of these things can be configured to go on for varying amounts of time. I use it for the Pomodoro Technique when programming. Corey Haines introduced me to Tomatoist when I paired with him during one of his journeyman tours. While that site is awesome, I prefer using the Mac app to force eliminate distractions.
The Pomodoro Technique
The root of the idea is that you program for 25 minutes straight and then break for 5 minutes. This seems like a pretty simple idea but when you’re working by yourself things can happen. For example, maybe you want to send a quick email to someone but want to refer to something in their Facebook account you can’t quite remember. So then you look it up. While looking it up you notice something else interesting by another one of your friends and the distractions start. By the end of the distractions you’ve ordered enough parts for a fully functional robot suit off eBay. If you only had 5 minutes to do this stuff, maybe that wouldn’t have happened.
Setting Up Concentrate
Concentrate is actually a very simple application to use. Click on the “New Activity Button” and set your options. I called mine "Program Pomodoro." It’s set to block any site that could potentially distract me, Growl a message, and play a sound on completion. The typical Pomodoro technique lasts 25 minutes so drag the location slider over until you see 25 minutes. Boom, good to go. Now you can’t look at anyone’s Facebook account or respond to any threads on hacker news for a good 25 minutes. You’ll get to that during your break.
The next task you’ll want to set up is the break. This is the most rewarding task. I just have this one Growl a message ("Get back to work!") and play a sound when it’s done. The duration slider should be set to 5 minutes.
Get To It!
That’s about it. It’s simple software and well worth the $30 to eliminate distractions. I use it only for those two techniques listed above and have been very happy. Special thanks to Corey Haines for introducing me to the Pomodoro technique.