We've all hit a bump in the road, when we just can't work anymore and need some sort of system or gadget that forces us to be productive without even realizing it. As colleges and employers increasingly expect students and employees to keep up with workloads that seem impossible without the use of smart drugs, we've found some of the Web's latest offerings designed to keep you up to speed by pulling the inspiration out of you, while also keeping your mind working at full velocity:
Write or Die
: No, Diddy didn't start a literacy campaign. Rather, Write or Die is an online program (and possibly a cheap form of therapy?) that brings new meaning to the concept of negative reinforcement. Using its text box, it prods writers out of procrastinating by, in its most severe (or, "kamikaze") mode, deleting what you just wrote if you don't continue to write. In addition to making you work faster, it makes writer's block a thing of the past by drawing out deep thoughts and emotions you might not have even known were there, as host "Dr. Wicked" terrorizes you into continuing to type. The only drawback is that Write or Die won't let you edit on the fly; would-be Elmore Leonards have to cut and paste their work into their program of choice in order to correct it. It almost feels like going back to a mid-'90s word processor and having to save your work every 20 minutes or risk losing it. Could it be that floppy discs actually made us more productive than gargantuan hard drives spitting out new versions of Word every year?
: We've all heard it before: If you take a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes of work, you can maximize your brain's capabilities. Maybe it's true, but who can stick to that schedule? Particularly when that handle of gin you and your friends shared last weekend still hinders your mind's potential. This iPhone app alerts you when it's time to take a break and spend some time creeping on your ex's Facebook profile. You can alter the times to fit your personal habits, but use the downtime wisely, and don't leave a social media trail. Regardless, like any good alarm, it comes with a snooze button. Five more minutes, please?
: 43 Folders is a blog devoted to the art of productivity, so much so that its author posits, "If you're still here, you should probably get back to work." The first step to using 43 Folders is to ask yourself why you're there, or what in your life needs improvement. Is it your blog
, is it your procrastination habit
, or do you need a little help in the self-examination category
? No matter what your problem is, Merlin Mann is here to help. Even though we know it's hard taking advice from a guy who shares a name with a wizard, perhaps his words of wisdom really are magic.
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