Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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procrastination sensor

locks your computer to prevent procrastination
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It often happens that I have work to finish by a deadline. It also often happens that the 'muse' doesn't strike until a certain degree of urgency is reached.

The precise time before the deadline that this 'tipping point' is reached depends on the scale of the work, but until that point is reached, I end up sitting at my computer procrastinating - my compiler's open but so is my email, web browser with 35 tabs, MSN messenger, etc, and there's very little work being done. Really I'm often in a kind of trance and precious life-minutes are being wasted.

The procrastination sensor program would help. For each job I have to do, I program in my delivery deadline, and tag specific documents / folders on my computer as related to that job. I also mark certain applications / websites as 'bad' - in that I tend to use them when I'm procrastinating.

The program then knows whether I'm working on a job (files and folders related to that job are changing) and also when I'm wasting time.

When it detects that I'm timewasting, it first warns me (by playing Cliff Richard's 'Summer Holiday') and then, if ignored, simply locks the computer (goes into screensaver mode) for a programmable amount of time, say one hour.

This forces me to do other, more life-affirming things with my time (like leaving the office to visit an art gallery / sit in the park drinking meths / call a friend / play guitar / do the washing-up. It also increases that vital internal feeling of 'urgency' that lets me cross the tipping point and get to work.

Simply knowing the sensor is on would reduce my chance of procrastinating.

bumhat, Jan 27 2006

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       Oh! Wonderful idea. just what I need for my computer at work... - in fact, what am I doing here on œB right now? Doh!
ElTel, Jan 27 2006
  

       Right, I'm off to prepare the afternoon's event. I know full well that there's a lot to do.
wagster, Jan 27 2006
  

       Sounds like it would be a good device, but how are you going to get round to building a prototype?
Minimal, Jan 27 2006
  

       My sensor works by showing a picture of a partial croissant in the top left corner.
bungston, Jan 27 2006
  

       Sounds a lot like work. If my computer becomes unusable as "punishment" for not getting to work, I might never get anything done in the office!   

       Are you sure this is the way to prevent procrastination and not enable it?
XSarenkaX, Aug 24 2006
  

       //This forces me to do other, more life-affirming things with my time (like leaving the office to visit an art gallery//   

       ...going across the hall to borrow someone else's computer to continue my procrastinations.)
NotTheSharpestSpoon, Aug 25 2006
  
      
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