I opened an email invoice yesterday for an app that, to tell the truth, I’d forgotten involved an annual subscription.
That’s never good news: money you weren’t expecting to spend, out the door before you know it.
And you know the feeling. Sometimes you subscribe to an app you are sure will change your life, then, a few months or a year down the road, you start to wonder if it was really worth it.
For example, I have a premium Evernote account that costs me $69.99 per year. I think the thing that pushed me into that subscription was when they “premiumized” the ability to add notes via SMS. I use that feature all the time, because I can use Siri’s voice control feature to capture notes hands-free, on walks, driving, etc.
Although I like the idea of many of the other Evernote Premium features (especially searching inside PDFs and Office documents), I can’t say I use them very often, and I don’t usually hit even the “Plus” level’s 1 GB monthly upload level. So let’s just say my “Premium” relationship with Evernote is… tentative.
I feel similarly about my Pro Dropbox subscription (I feel so powerful thinking that I have a TB, but so far I’m only using 5 percent of it), and I recently went to the App Store and deselected “automatically resubscribe” for Headspace and LoseIt Premium. (On which more some other time.)
But I don’t regret a penny of the $29 annual fee I just paid for Freedom, and—don’t tell founder Fred Stutzman—I’d probably gladly pay double. Yes, as George no doubt meant to sing, “It won’t let you down, and I won’t give it up!”
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Freedom, it’s the current evolution of what used to be two different products, Freedom and Antisocial. What’s it do? Simple: it breaks the internet for you. Did you know you can try it out for free? Click here to get started.)
Basically, Freedom blocks you from connecting to websites for set periods of time so that you can, you know, get things done (not to coin a phrase, or anything). You can block the whole internet at the click of a button; block specific sites you add to a custom list; or select canned lists of sites available in the Freedom app (like “Social,” “Politics,” etc.) You could also grab a canned list, like Social, and add some additional sites of your own choosing.
Having selected what you want blocked, you then select when you want it blocked. You can turn on a Freedom blocking session right now for a set amount of time, schedule one to be already running tomorrow morning when you know you’ll need to concentrate on that TPS report so you won’t have to work late.
You can also get completely crazy, like me, and schedule recurring sessions across multiple devices. I’m not going to get into the weeds of exactly what I’m blocking, where; I’ll just describe the results.
Basically, there’s a huge pile of websites that I consider “most likely to offend” when it comes to sucking my attention away from stuff that actually matters. I have a bunch of Freedom lists and recurring sessions set up such that I can access these procrastination magnets only for a few hours in the evening on my work laptop; until 7 a.m. on my phone (with a couple of half-hour windows here and there throughout the day that I usually forget to leverage until they’re over); and during the day on a desktop computer I have to walk downstairs to use.
I’ve been living this way for a few months, and it’s no exaggeration to say that it has really changed how I manage my work during the day—for the much better. It certainly can’t be a coincidence that I’ve recently made leaps and strides on actually implementing modified Get Things Done with OmniFocus and paper-based time-blocking (on which more—probably much more—later).
More importantly, I just feel better. I don’t have the guilty panic of suddenly snapping out of a Facebook spiral and realizing I’ve lost three hours to arguing with a friend of a friend about whether Reince Priebus looks more like Peewee Herman or a Muppet. (Right now, I’m leaning toward Pee-wee Herman, but maybe we just haven’t found the right muppet, yet?) And I am just much less likely to experience the anxiety that comes from being drawn into some bullshit on Facebook, leaving an ill-advised comment, and then wondering all day who responded, how, whether I’m still “winning,” etc.
I’ll pass on all that, thanks very much.
From time to time, I hear people scoff at apps like Freedom. “Just don’t go on the internet,” they say, smugly. To them, I say, if you don’t have a problem, then obviously you don’t need this (and if you’re busy schedule ever allows you to come down from Mt. Olympus, do drop by—we miss you!). If you do need it—and you know who you are—Freedom is a great product.
That said, I will offer one little caveat: sometimes, Freedom has hiccups and glitches. This is because the app has to pay attention to the guts and inner workings of so many different websites (and the associated softwares and services that make them work), operating systems, and so forth, all of which are constantly getting updated and tweaked by their own developers.
The good news: Freedom has great, super-responsive support. In fact, not only have I exchanged multiple emails with Fred himself, he once even did some custom work for me on the backend of the app that made it even more perfectly suited for my needs! So, if you do hit a glitch, don’t despair—report it, and someone from the Freedom team will definitely do everything they can to help you figure it out.
Did I mention you can try it out for free? Click here to get started.)
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