Strict Workflow is an interesting Google Chrome Browser extension that you can download for free! The purpose of the app is to enforce a strict 25 minute workflow cycle. You click on the tomato in the upper right hand corner and it begins to count down from 25 minutes to 0. Once the time is up you give yourself a five minute break. It is based on the Pomodoro Technique, hence the tomato. The pomodoro technique is where you work in twenty-five minute intervals, and break for five. You repeat the cycle as necessary until your task in finished. I’ve told myself this blog post will take two pomodoros, it being a Monday and all. I’ve installed the app extension on my student’s computers in my SI room. I had each student chose two websites to block, and I got to pick one myself to block for them to block as well. It gave us a total of three websites they had to block. I chose youtube. What I like about Strict Workflow is that it isn’t too strict. After your 25 minutes is up you can go on and add more websites to block, or if you want to live dangerously you can take a few off. For students with shorter attention spans you can set the timer for a shorter period. I would love to have students use this as a study tool to help them stay focused and concentrated. Look, I only have 11 minutes to go!
Another App that I’ve been using on and off all year with my students is similar to Strict Workflow in that it blocks sites, however, it is much more strict, almost like parental controls. Self Control blocks not only websites like Strict Workflow but also blocks mail servers and other social media apps. Whereas Strict Control is pretty easy to circumnavigate (all you have to do is remove the app from your browser shhh!) Self Control is a lot more strict. I mean, they don’t have a nice looking tomato timer to remind you of your work time, they instead have a pretty gnarly looking skull in a spade. Pretty badass looking logo if you ask me! It is also much harder to get around the blocking software . You can’t just remove it, or restart your computer. Once the software is turned on, you are staying off your blacklisted sites for the allotted time you pre-set.
I have students who have used both apps. I think Strict Workflow is great for staying on task, pre-planning, and organization. It is not so much about blacklisting sites, as it is about staying on task for 25 minute cycles and then rewarding yourself for doing so. SelfControl is all about prevention. There are no rewards, unless the reward is staying off of Social Media etc. It is effective and does what it attends.
Do you guys see yourselves or your students using either of the apps?