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Setup Restricted User Accounts to Focus and Get Things Done

Setup Restricted User Accounts to Focus and Get Things Done
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    Do you have your email alerts on, Twitter apps pinging you every second, or IM up and running 24/7? Have you noticed that these constant distractions tend to, well, distract you? If so, rather than turning these things off you can design and create totally different user accounts on your Mac or PC to help you concentrate on the work at hand.

    Figure out what you need

    The first thing you must do is figure out what tools you need in what context and then create a separate user account that contains those tools. For example, if you are a writer you may want to have a “writing account” where all you have access to is a simple text tool (or whatever writing tool that you prefer) and everything else is locked down.

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    Some contexts that you work in require access to a bunch of tools, so you have to sit down and list out only the tools you actually need. This is the first step to create environments on your computer that don’t destroy your concentration and attention.

    Figure out what you don’t want

    Next, after you know the contexts of your life and also the tools that those contexts require, you have to list the things that you want to stay away from in those contexts. Maybe for your “writing account” you don’t want to have access to the Internet, or maybe you want to only access a certain site on the internet (your blog for instance). You may want to also limit the apps that you can use on this account to a few different text editors and utilities.

    It’s important to be honest with yourself and not to fall into the trap of saying, “yeah, I probably will be fine if I enable IM on this account. I mean, how will people get ahold of me?” The real question should be, “what is the bare minimum I need to get things done while doing (insert the context of your life here)?”

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    Process and tools

    Setting up these accounts is pretty easy on a Mac or PC.

    On your Mac, probably the best way to do this is to go to Settings -> Parental Controls and create a new user. Give it the name of the context that you are trying to work under. From there you can setup application restrictions, site restrictions, etc.

    On a PC (Windows 7) you can access Parental Controls by clicking the Start Menu, search for “parental controls” and clicking on the option that comes up. From there you can create new accounts as well as control their time usage and applications restrictions.

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    Of course, you can always get around these restrictions by using your administrator password, but it is another burier to cross. When you are about to enable IM on your account that you are trying to get things done on, you can stop for a moment and refocus.

    There are also ways to block certain websites or only allow certain websites (which may be an easier thing to do in some cases). But, if you want to get very binary with this you could use a tool like Freedom or even turn off Internet access completely on certain accounts. Freedom is a great tool to turn off your Internet access for a set period time. It disables your network access at a physical level, so only a reboot of the computer will get it back. Yet another burier to keep you from wasting time.

    Conclusion

    Creating separate accounts for the different contexts in your life to enable and disable certain tools and software may seem like overkill. But, if you are struggling to pay attention while you are working on your computer, it may just be the exact thing you need. Give it a try to see if restricting yourself and controlling your computer accounts can help you get things done.

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    (Photo credit: Modern laptop with metal padlock on screen via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on December 18, 2020

    Can Technology have Biases Like Humans?

    Can Technology have Biases Like Humans?
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    Technology has taken a vantage leap in providing solutions for man. Before now, technology used to appear complex and would require a great deal of expertise to handle solutions available. Today, we have technology applicable in the simplest human activities as smart products with intelligent algorithms powering them as they make error-free judgments and provide intelligent and analytic solutions.

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    This article from Credit Suisse, tells us that technology does not have all the answers because it has been found to exhibit “similar biases,” as humans. No one can discredit the impact of technology, but it is not totally free of human input and this is the reason we experience these biases in many areas we have technology holding foot.

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    Creating technological solutions transparently

    This article suggests that the process of creating technological solutions be made transparent and subject to contribution from many people who would end up as users of the product – male, female, young, old, learned, unlearned and all other preferences as we have them. It also underscores the importance of having women on product development teams. This approach is not sure to eliminate all forms of bias, but it is a good way to start in order to appraise the full benefits of technology.

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    Technology as the connecting tool

    Technology so far has been a major connecting tool amongst us humans. It is used and appreciated by all regardless of race, language and sex. In order to keep it less subjective to these arguments about human biases. I believe we should gather opinions on products and solutions before making them available to the public. This could be done by gathering input from intended target users and receiving feedback across the stages of production.

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    “Recognizing the problem is a start…success will depend on inclusive technologies that meet this vast untapped market.” This cannot be more apt especially at a time when we look up to technology for solutions. We should not muzzle our progress with technology by battling algorithm bias. The first way to avoid this battle is by reading this article here.

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