Another item for the hyperbolic discounting attention management (Ainslie) pile.
TimeSnapper (note scroll down to the free version). This app takes a snapshot of your desktop. Latter you can play that back as a time lapse movie. This helps you see where the time went.
I don’t use a PC so I haven’t tried TimeSnapper. On the Mac there is a substitute: Gawker. Gawker is a tool for making time-lapse movies using your Mac’s iSight camera, but it can be used to record your desktop. I’ve enjoyed watching my days, and to my surprise I’ve enjoyed seeing what my machine does at night.
Apparently people use TimeSnapper to prove to their clients that they were actually working on the project during the hours they claimed. Obviously this could be used for all kinds of abusive monitoring.
Which reminds me. I gather that some years ago the US Post Office was well known for having the most horribly polarized employee/management known. Visiting my local Post Office during an open house I was amazed to discover that they had built the place with high ceilings. In that space they had built walkways from which the management to observe the workers. These walkways were enclosed with tiny spy holes; to assure that workers didn’t know when they were being watched. The staff was as amused as I was. The observation posts hadn’t been used in years.
Update: Karim Lakhani mentions Freedom, A mac app that disables your networking for up to eight hours.
I hear the Firefox plugin – LeechBlock is popular.
Tip of the hat to John Sequeria who mentioned TimeSnapper.