WASHINGTON – If you work in an office, you know how easy it can be for your computer to become a distraction. Between Solitaire and Minesweeper — much less whatever’s lurking in Internet Explorer — just one double-click of the mouse could be enough to take you off-task for hours.
By one estimate, 40 percent of lost job productivity can be traced back to non-work-related Web surfing alone.
If you can relate, help may be just one more double-click away.
A Pittsburgh-based software developer named Fred Stutzman has developed a DIY Internet-blocking program called Freedom. For $10, you can download the program and enter in the amount of time you’d like to block your access to the Web.
Then, voilà: A “denial of service” message will appear for any website you try to access.
The only way to get online before time expires is to reboot your computer, but Stutzman figures that would be so much of a hassle that most workers wouldn’t bother.
But if you need the Internet for your job, Stutzman also offers a $15 program that will block just the sites that are most likely to divert your attention.
Anti-Social leaves most of the Internet open, but automatically blocks social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, dating sites like JDate and FriendFinder, online video venues such as Vimeo and Hulu, and gossip blogs such as TMZ and Perez Hilton.
You can add your own potentially offending sites, but the ones that Anti-Social already blocks are pretty astounding.
Freedom works on Macs and PCs, but Anti-Social is available only for Macs.
Of course, none of this will stop you from clicking on Solitaire on your PC desktop if you’re determined to lose focus between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.