A new programme aims to boost productivity by cutting users off of the web.
Webtrate was created by Will Little, a writer who won a playwriting masterclass at the National Theatre and was awarded with an eight-week attachment at the renowned NT Studio.
A year followed in which Little struggled to finish his play, partly due to being unable to “find anything that could prevent [him] being distracted by the internet”, and led to the creation of the motivational anti-internet app.
“Webtrate completely cuts off your access to the internet so you can't use the computer to connect to the internet,” Little explained to PCR.
“It makes a huge difference to productivity.”
“Before an email would pop up and I read it and I'd get involved in a discussion about a work related matter and I'd lose my chain of thought.”
Users who install the programme, which costs £5, set themselves a time period during which the internet is disabled, and set a goal to achieve by the end of the time period. At the end of the designated cut-off period, the user’s targets and actual achievements are compared and given a star rating.
Despite the app’s restricting of internet access, Little added that a permanent disconnection from the web might hamper, rather than help, productivity.
“It depends what you are trying to achieve,” he said.
“If you want to concentrate completely on a report or piece of work then [temporary disconnection from the internet] is [the right solution] if you take the right measure.”
“Webtrate was developed for just this reason. My productivity has increased, yet I still use the internet a lot – I research on the internet and engage with social media when my work is over, or piece of work is completed.”
“[However] if you're desperate to check a fact [online] straightaway then you'll probably use it as an excuse to stop working and get back online for some distraction. If you look up one fact, there'll be another link to read and then an email, and before you know it looking online to check one fact has taken you half an hour.”
Discussing the growing implications of the internet for workers, Little said that a balance was vital.
“I think people have plenty of motivation, but the internet means there is now much more competing for our attention,” he commented.
“You aren't demotivated if you are working on a report and you decide to respond to an email, but it will lose your chain of thought. I think it is more to do with learning again that we don't need to do everyone at the same time, so instead write the report or work offline for a bit, then work for a bit online.”
“Some people do need to block the internet because checking the internet and email has become a habit. Also blocking the internet can create an awareness just how much time you were spending online.”