Joelle Renstrom: How to Learn in a World of Tech



This week we decided to sit down with Joelle Renstrom – writer and Boston University professor – to find out what it’s like to teach and learn in an age full of technology-induced distraction. Based in Somerville, MA, Renstrom teaches writing and research with a focus on robots/AI, technology, space exploration, and science fiction. Given her background, Renstrom often finds herself right in the center of the debate on the various way in which technology can distract, detract, or add value in the classroom. Read more

Expert Stefanie Weisman: How to Study Without Distraction


Okay, I admit it. I’ve been having a little problem in the self-control department lately. No matter what I tried to do – write an article, do research, read a book, etc. – I found myself typing the url of some distracting, time-wasting website, with Facebook being the worst offender. It was a rather bizarre feeling, as if my fingers had acquired a mind of their own.  Before I knew it, I had been sucked into an internet black hole of silly videos and mindless trivia, which used up a good chunk of my time and energy.

My situation is hardly unique.  In my experience as a high school and college study skills expert, I’m constantly reminded of the problems caused by excessive internet usage.  On average, teens spend nine hours a day using media for entertainment – that’s more time than they spend sleeping and far more time than they spend studying.  Many students use social media and other “fun” sites while they’re studying or doing homework.  They may think such media multi-tasking doesn’t hurt their concentration, but study after study has shown this not to be the case.  According to a pioneer in this field, the late Stanford professor Clifford Nass, “people who chronically multitask show an enormous range of deficits. They’re basically terrible at all sorts of cognitive tasks, including multitasking.”  In a 2012 study, researchers found that using Facebook and texting in particular were associated with lower GPA. Read more

Looking Back at Freedom’s First Year

This week Freedom turns one. Since launching the Freedom platform out of beta last September, over 200,000 of you have made Freedom a crucial part of your home and work routines. We are humbled and inspired every day by the accomplishments of our Freedom community. As authors, entrepreneurs, professors, students, researchers, artists and programmers, you have learned, published, launched, painted, created, taught, and committed to doing the things that matter. And for that we thank you.

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It’s Time to Take a Look at Your Digital Habits

A photo by Steinar La Engeland.

It’s time to talk about digital addiction. Maybe when you think of digital addiction you think of hardcore gamers glued to their computer screens for 18 hours a day and maybe that’s not you, but how much time do you spend checking your phone? Email? Notifications? Social media?

Our digital world is evolving so quickly that often we often don’t have the time to tweak and perfect our practices before the next thing is out. At Freedom we love technology, but we are also firm believers in keeping our technology working for us, rather than the other way around. We believe our habit of distraction,  much like any habit, can be changed and improved.

So here are a few of our favorite articles this month to get you thinking about your digital habits and practices. Read more

Freedom Founder and CEO, Fred Stutzman, on Building an App to Fight Distraction

screen-shot-2015-12-17-at-4-06-11-pmThis week we decided to sit down with Freedom’s founder and CEO, Fred Stutzman. Fred’s expertise lies in the science of distraction and focus – a journey that began in 2009 when his favorite coffee shop work spot acquired a dangerous feature – wireless internet. With this new installation, Fred now found that his favorite spot was no longer a safe haven of distraction-free focus that he so required while writing his PhD dissertation. Instead, he now had to constantly battle his urge to check email, notifications, and the rest of the web. After noticing the slump in his productivity, he decided to do something about it. He created Freedom’s predecessor – a simple program that would block the internet for a specified amount of time.

Seven years, plenty of research, and millions of downloads later, Fred is founder and CEO of Freedom, a productivity platform that blocks distracting websites and apps across all your devices.

As our in-house productivity expert, he’s here to share a little of what he has learned about digital distraction and getting things done. Read more

5 Tips to Study and Write Like a Pro

5tipsforstudyingBack-to-school season is in. You might have made it through your first day of school, but as the year continues – you’ll need more than a new outfit and a good breakfast to keep you motivated and focused.

Whether starting high school, finishing college, or tackling a PhD, writing and studying are a part of daily life. Although these things may never be easy, these are a few tips and tricks you can use to make achieving your goals as painless as possible. Read more

Freedom Founder Fred Stutzman Talks Digital Habits with Digital Mindfulness

Freedom Founder Fred Stutzman recently had the opportunity to sit down with the folks at Digital Mindfulness to discuss the importance of intentionally connecting to the internet and its impact on our productivity, creativity, and daily lives.

Digital Mindfulness is a London-based independent think tank, whose mission is to “help businesses and individuals thrive in an age of digital distractions.” As a thought leader in productivity and digital practices, they provide research, data, and events to professionals through a blog and podcast and are completely supported by their readers.

The host, Lawrence Ampofo, opens with the question: “why did you start this company that helps people block digital distractions?” Read more

How to Make Your Dream School Year a Reality

5ef15-imgAs the first day of school looms around the corner, it’s time to do a resolution reset. Whether you’re starting a new chapter of school or trying to finish strong, now is the time to think about what habits you need to change to make this year better than the last. Too often our productivity and success suffers as a result of online distractions, procrastination, and poor time management.

Here are some of our favorite articles on everything from procrastination to habit formation and the best tools and tricks to make your dream school year a reality. Read more

A Poké in the Eye of Productivity


Pokémon GO. What started as a reaction to a harmless 2014 Google April Fools joke, has rapidly become a worldwide phenomenon. With over 60 million installs and 10 million daily active users, it’s not uncommon to find clusters of millennials glued to their phone screens in seemingly random locations across the globe. This week I parked midday next to a city park, and looking around was immediately struck by the dozens of groups of 3-4 people strolling about, everyone staring at their phones. Even more striking were the individuals staring at 2 phones, one in each hand held at arm’s length, chugging along like classic zombies.

“Even more striking were the individuals staring at 2 phones, one in each hand held at arm’s length, chugging along like classic zombies.”

Reports of trespassing altercations, job resignations to pursue Pokémon GO fulltime, falls from cliffs…all make the headlines, but most players are safely pursuing the creatures and getting the benefits of walking at the same time. Read more

Tips for Freelancers: Procrastinate Less, Produce More


At Freedom we are lucky to have many of our users write about their experience. From tweets to published articles – the Freedom community is buzzing with productivity strategy, advice, and experiments for a more focused, fulfilled life.

This week’s articles focus on productivity, procrastination, and the tools and strategies you can use to reach your full potential as a freelancer.  Read on… Read more