Thursday, May 07, 2015

ADHD Adults Need a Little Self Control

Need a little SelfControl?

Being distracted goes hand in hand with ADHD like crime & punishment, yet sometimes a harmless stroll around the internet has damaging repercussions. Late assignments, missed deadlines, bank fees, lost friendships, addiction… It sure seems unfair to be born this way. I mean, normal people never get distracted on the internet. Only we, poor, ADHD adults struggle with this great human tragedy.

Except you know that isn’t true. The dopamine hit that everybody gets for likes, favorites, and new posts works across the human spectrum. Adults with ADHD just fall into the trap quicker and often with more intensity. It’s a good thing that technology is here to help us with our problem with technology.

🙈 See No Evil

The best solution I have found is to prevent myself from having access to the sites I currently waste time on. I usually fire up TextMate to edit my hosts file buried deep in the hidden /private/etc/ folder. I’ve also been known to use vi to do the deed in Terminal, but I’m a Mac geek. When I’m really bad, I’ll even edit the net router settings to lock out those sites from all my devices.

For the most part, editing the hosts file works great for keeping me from news and social media sites, but sometimes I forget to put things back the way they were. What this means is that when I block the Drudge Report during election season on a day I need to get work done, I’ll usually forget to unblock it. I’ll discover my mistake when I’m relaxing in bed in the dark with a bright screen a few inches from my face. Then I realize I need to edit my hosts file, so I’ll climb out of bed, edit the file, and forget to return to bed. Maybe you can’t relate.

Now I don’t have to do that anymore. An app ironically called SelfControl will automate all of that for you. Just add your list of naughty sites, set a time limit!, and SelfControl will edit the hosts file for you and block you from those sites only while the timer is in effect. If you change the hosts file manually, SelfControl will reblock those sites during the allotted period. It’ll even survive a reboot. (Of course, that just means if you try to get around the block by rebooting, your hosts file is still set to block all those sites.) SelfControl makes you obey as soon as you put it in control, then gets out of the way when the timer ends. I did find myself force quitting the app and editing the hosts file so that I could send out a tweet at one point, but overall I find it very effective for keeping me well behaved and focused. Why I didn’t just use the iPhone in front of me to send that tweet is a problem to be explored on another blog. In the meantime, Mac users should definitely check out SelfControl if they’re looking for some self-imposed governance to keep them on task.

What do you think? Have you ever edited your hosts file to keep yourself productive? Maybe you’re a Windows user who has found another solution? Let us know in the comments below. Whatever your solution, I’m sure somebody out there needs to hear from you.