Use Cold Turkey Blocker to elim­i­nate dig­i­tal dis­trac­tions

Maximum PC - - R&D - –CAR­RIE MAR­SHALL

IT’S VERY EASY TO FALL down an on­line rab­bit hole: You start the day with the best in­ten­tions, but be­fore you know it, you’ve spent three hours watch­ing pop videos on YouTube. That’s great if you’re just mess­ing around, but it’s a prob­lem if you’re mess­ing around when you re­ally ought to be work­ing. Cold Turkey Blocker makes it im­pos­si­ble to mess about for a spec­i­fied time.

Win­dows 10’s built-in parental con­trols cover sim­i­lar ground, such as set­ting time lim­its, but Cold Turkey Blocker is even tougher: It works across web browsers and with vir­tual pri­vate net­works, and if you de­cide to shell out for the paid-for Pro ver­sion, you get some re­ally ad­vanced block­ing tools. But, as we’ll dis­cover in this tu­to­rial, the free ver­sion does an in­cred­i­bly good job of get­ting rid of the big­gest time-wasters and keep­ing you fo­cused on what you’re sup­posed to be do­ing. 1 WHICH EX­TEN­SION DO YOU RE­QUIRE? The first time you in­stall the Cold Turkey Blocker pro­gram on your sys­tem, you also need to in­stall the ap­pro­pri­ate ex­ten­sion for Google Chrome (or what­ever web browser you’re us­ing) as well [ Im­age A]. Cold Turkey Blocker of­fers sup­port for both Fire­fox and Opera, too—how­ever, un­for­tu­nately it cur­rently doesn’t work with the lat­est ver­sion of Mi­crosoft’s Edge browser. Un­less you’re a die-hard Edge fan, we al­ways rec­om­mend that you go with an al­ter­na­tive browser any­way. And in this case, you’ll just have to stop your­self from be­ing tempted to use Edge in or­der to cir­cum­vent the block­ing.

2 IN­STALL THE APP First up, you’re ob­vi­ously go­ing to need to get your­self the free ver­sion of Cold Turkey Blocker, so go to https://get­cold­turkey.com, click the big green “Get it now” but­ton, then click “Download Now” to grab the “Ba­sic” ver­sion. Once Cold Turkey is in­stalled on your sys­tem, run the pro­gram, and it asks you which browser ex­ten­sion you want to in­stall. Click the green “In­stall” but­ton in the new win­dow that ap­pears [ Im­age B], and it in­stalls and adds the ex­ten­sion to your Chrome, Opera, or Fire­fox browser for you.

3 EN­ABLE THE EX­TEN­SION The first thing you need to do is en­able the ex­ten­sion, which you do by click­ing the “On/Off” but­ton, so it’s no longer gray. You can get to this page any time by en­ter­ing “chrome://ex­ten­sions” in the ad­dress bar [ Im­age C]. You also need to click the “De­tails” link un­der­neath the Cold Turkey icon, be­cause there’s an im­por­tant set­ting we need to switch on for the app. 4 EN­ABLE INCOGNITO Just be­low the half­way mark in the ex­ten­sion de­tails menu, you should see an op­tion for “Al­low in incognito” [ Im­age D]. This needs to be en­abled, or you or any­body else can by­pass Cold Turkey by putting Chrome into incognito mode, its pri­vate brows­ing mode. If you don’t en­able this op­tion, Cold Turkey au­to­mat­i­cally closes Chrome af­ter one minute when­ever you launch it, in or­der to pre­vent any po­ten­tially un­wanted shenani­gans. 5 DE­TAIL THE DIS­TRAC­TIONS Once you’ve changed it so Cold Turkey can now func­tion in incognito mode, you can re­turn to the desk­top app. From the Dash­board screen, click “Block Lists” [ Im­age E] to start find­ing ways to make your day dis­trac­tion-free. By de­fault, Cold Turkey Blocker comes with a pre­de­fined list of time-wast­ing web­sites, such as Net­flix, dis­cus­sion boards, and click­bait web­sites. Click “Edit” to see the block list or to add your own en­tries. 6 CUS­TOM­IZE THE LIST If you drop the cash on the Pro ver­sion, you’ll see four cat­e­gories to­ward the top of the win­dow here: “Web­sites,” “Apps,” “Win 10 Apps,” which blocks apps that aren’t EXE files, and “Ex­cep­tions” [ Im­age F]. You can use the last one to whitelist cer­tain web pages and pro­grams. For ex­am­ple, you might want to block Red­dit, but still al­low your­self ac­cess to http://red­dit.com/r/get­mo­ti­vated. It’s a nifty lit­tle fea­ture, al­though it does make the pro­gram a lit­tle in­flex­i­ble without spend­ing money first. It’s cur­rently $19 for the Pro ver­sion as a one-off pay­ment. 7 SET THE BLOCK Now we’ve got the ex­cep­tions edited, it’s time to set the block. Click the “Timers” icon to set the end time for your dis­trac­tion-free ses­sion. From the main dash­board, click “Start a timer,” then click the Cal­en­dar un­der “Block Un­til.” Next, click the date, then click the time you want the dis­trac­tion-free pe­riod to fin­ish [ Im­age G]. Only click the big “Sta­tus” tog­gle but­ton from “Off” to “On” when you’re sure you have the right date and time set for your dis­trac­tion free pe­riod. 8 TURN IT ON Once ev­ery­thing’s set up, and you’ve pressed the big red but­ton, so to speak, with the fil­ters and timers switched on, this is what hap­pens when some­one— in­clud­ing you—tries to visit any of the sites you’ve limited ac­cess to: In­stead of Net­flix, for ex­am­ple, we get a mo­ti­va­tional quote de­signed to en­cour­age us to be more pro­duc­tive [ Im­age H]. The mes­sage ap­pears with any ac­cess at­tempts, un­til the dis­trac­tion-free pe­riod ends.

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