How much does an interruption cost you? – Seven apps that will force you to focus

This week I’ve written approximately 60,000 words – blog posts, auto-responders, company descriptions, website copy, social media posts, video scripts, eBooks and more. To make matters worse,  I had to switch from copy in Spanish to copy in English and vice versa
Don’t ask me how I’ve done it. It all feels like a blur.

One thing is for sure. It’s damn hard.

No, I’m not talking about the writing. I love it!

What drives me insane is how every five minutes my whole body begins an orchestrated attempt at surfing on the Net without asking for my permission.

It just goes ahead and does it.

My hand automatically wonders to a social media page or another, or somehow I get this urge to search for the latest in MH370, or for one of Tony Abbott’s latest blunders or for a post on adorable talking dogs.

So to get through the 60,000 words I had to submit this week, I had to pull out all an arsenal of tools to prevent myself from getting distracted. I thought you might find them useful as well, whatever your endeavours.

Obtract ^( is an extremely clever app that helps you identify your main distractions. When your mind craves them and wants to access them, Obstact creates complicated intellectual obstacles to access them. The only problem is that for those who love intellectual and math tasks, it can become a new form of procrastination!

Freedom ^( online distractions kill your productivity, Freedom could be the best 10 dollars you’ll ever spend.

Selfcontrol ^(, a free and open-source application for Mac OS X (10.5 or above) that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click “Start.” Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites–even if you restart your computer or delete the application.

Cold Turkey ^(, an app that will temporarily block you off of social media sites, addicting websites, games and even programs!

Unstuck ^(, is a free app for iPad owners, with a very interesting concept, which helps you to figure out HOW you procrastinate and what exactly you do to avoid doing tasks. The app helps to figure out what type of procrastinator you are and suggests ways to deal with it.

MeeTimer is an add-on for the Firefox browser and is a perfect app for self-conscious people. It doesn’t block anything, but instead just calculates the time that you spent on every single website throughout the day and gives you all the statistics, including percentages of your time spent on specific websites. It is designed to make you feel guilty about all the wasted time on the “wrong” tasks.

Anti-Social ^( is a program which will block all social websites. It’s quite nasty – it only lets you bring them back if you reboot your computer.

Stop Disctrations ^( is a simple app for Windows that just blocks your worst enemies! An alternative app, which runs on Google Chrome, is called Procrastinator ^(

Tere: Hey you, tell me, how do I capture your attention?

Yes, you – the reader, the buyer, the user, the prospect, the audience, the observer, the stalker (may be not you), the spectator, the player, the onlooker. Tell me what’s going to take to stop you from clicking that button and moving away from me. You, heartless run-away. How do I get you to listen to my sob story once and for all? What is it going to take for you to watch my dog running around my home annoying my cat with its adorable friendship? How will I share with you my latest piece of newfound wisdom if you refuse to stop by? How do I get you to read a story that forty years ago would have made it into a best sellers’ list but today is lost in this virtual universe among millions of competing stories?

What do I have to do to get you to notice me?


You: Look me in the eyes and Make me care.

Tere: Make you care? That simple? You: Yes, that’s all I want. I’m sick and tired of not caring. I want you to grab me by the shoulders, look me in the eye and tell me to care. I demand you make me care with a good crafted story. Can’t take any more spelling mistakes. I hate  my language being tortured, shortened, abbreviated, played with. I want no more jargon, no gimmicks, no tactics, no ploys. I despise plagiarism and I can’t stand keywords “strategically” overloaded throughout the text (do you think I can’t really tell?) just to please an omnipotent virtual entity.
All I want is to care about what you have to say.
I want you to enthrall me with your words, with anticipation, with well-written intrigue so that I can stay in your page longer than ten seconds. I hate those ten seconds. I’m sick of swishing through the headlines without paying attention at what I’m being said. I despise myself for just looking at those

s and

s that supposedly hold the keys to all my answers.   All I want is to care about you, about your story, about the reason that brought you here; about the forest you see from your window while you write words that make sense to me. I want to see you wrap yourself up in a blanket while you write, make yourself a cup of tea and fill up a water bottle to put your icy feet on. So human. I want to see you through your words. Not through heartless keywords. Because I know there’s no one I wouldn’t learn to love once I heard their story. Their true story, not one enmascarated by keywords and strategies. You just have to give me the chance to care about yours. I’ll give you more than ten minutes in return. That’s all.

Why is letter X the great Unknown?

Have you ever stopped to think why on earth do we assign the letter X to anything and everything we are not familiar with? Mutants, files, factors, numbers, rays, and many other persons, animals, objects or entities of unclear description are classified as X. Why? Well, according to Terry Moore, director of the Radius Foundation, you can blame it all on the old Spanish scholars who attempted to translate Arabic texts into the Spanish vernacular. It seems that when the texts that contained the Arabic mathematical wisdom made their way to Europe via  Spain in the 11th and 12th centuries, translators found the task a lot more challenging than expected. As you would expect, some of the sounds in Arabic were not represented by the characters that were available in European languages and thus impossible to translate. The letter SHeen (below) being one of the best examples.

SHeen makes the sound we are accustomed to pronounce as SH — “sh.” It’s also the first letter of the word shalan, which means “something” , some undefined, unknown thing. In Arabic, it is possible to make this definite by adding the definite article “al”, and you’ll have al-shalan — the unknown thing.

So the mystified Medieval Spanish scholars who were tasked with translating this material found that the they could not render the letter SHeen and the word shalan  into Spanish because Spanish simply did not have that SH, that “sh” sound.

So what did they do?  They created a rule in which they borrowed the CK sound from classical Greek in the form of the letter Kai (below).

Imagined what happened next?

When this material was translated into other common European languages,  Latin for instance, translators chose to replace the Greek Kai with the Latin X. And once that happened,once this material was in Latin, it formed the basis for mathematics textbooks for almost 600 years.

So, there you go.

 Why is it that we assign letter X to everything that is unknown to us? For no other reason than the inability of some poor scholars in mediaeval times to pronounce the Arabic sound  “sh” in Spanish.