Apps for Controlling Procrastination

Admit it, we all procrastinate. Law students are especially good at it. You know it’s exam season when I have no dirty dishes in the sink and am fully caught upon Suits, Shameless, and Last Week Tonight. Heck, you’re probably procrastinating right now: reading this post instead of working your assignment.

While I can’t help you eliminate procrastination from your life, I can show you a few good tools that I use when I really need to knuckle down and get a brief written, work on an outline, or finish cite checks for journal.

Turn On Do Not Disturb


First things first. Turn on Do Not Disturb to block all the notifications from that totally distracting group chat you’ve got going on with your friends.

You can get there by clicking on the Notification Center icon on the top-right of your screen (looks like this: IL_NotificationCenter_osx_2x.png ) and turning on Do Not Disturb. If you don’t see the Do Not Disturb icon, you might need to scroll down on the menu to get it to show up. For whatever reason, Apple decides to hide this unless you specifically go looking for it.

If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad nearby, don’t forget to either throw it on Airplane mode or put it on Do Not Disturb as well. Better yet, turn it off and leave it in a different room.

Block Time Wasting Websites

SelfControl is probably my favorite (and most used) app for when I need to force myself to study. If you’re like me, “I’ll just hop on Facebook for 5 minutes” quickly turns into an hour lost scrolling through your high-school friends status updates about their annoying kids and mashups of sheep screaming alongside Taylor Swift videos (trust me, it’s funny).

What if you could lock yourself out of Facebook for a few hours? SelfControl lets you do just that. The way that SelfControl works is simple. A slider lets you adjust how long you want to block access to a list of sites:


Click on “Edit Blacklist” to set your list of temporarily blocked sites.


If you’re a real masochist, you can even set a “Whitelist” of sites – you’ll only be able to access sites that you specifically list. I wouldn’t recommend doing this, as you might inadvertently leave out something you really need.

SelfControl is pretty iron-clad – even restarting your computer won’t defeat it. Be very careful with how far you adjust that timer slider, otherwise you might find yourself cursing this app in a few hours. I’d recommend using hour-long intervals.

You can get SelfControl from their website. Best of all, it’s free!

Set a Timer

Law school work is a total slog – especially when you get to exam time. pomodoro-time-timer-mac-fullStudying for 8 hours straight just isn’t going to happen for most people, but at the same time it’s easy to forget to take regular breaks (and even easier to take too long on a break).

Enter BeFocusedPro, my second-favorite procrastination management app.

I’m no expert in time-management strategies, but I’ve found setting a 50 minute timer with 10 minute breaks helps me get the most out of a long study session. BeFocusedPro can automatically remind you to both take a break, and remind you again when it’s time to get back to work.

If you can work an egg timer, you can figure out this app. In the settings, you can set your work intervals and break times.


You can also set an extended break after so many intervals – for example after working four 50-minute intervals, you can take a half-hour break.

You can get BeFocusedPro from the Mac App store for $4.99. A version for your iPhone or iPad is also available for $1.99.


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