There are a huge number of programs and browser extensions that track which sites, games and applications we abuse. But, if you’re a Mac user, you won’t need any third-party tools.
MacOS Catalina includes Screen Time, a built-in set of settings to control how your computer is used. By tracking and setting limits on which programs are most likely to distract you, you can dramatically increase your productivity and begin to better cope with procrastination.
How to enable Screen Time
You can enable Screen Time by clicking System Preferences → Screen Time → Options → Enable. The Mac will now collect statistics about your application usage.
Similarly, this option can be disabled later if you do not need it.
How to view Mac usage statistics
This way you can find out how much time you spend on a particular application per day and per week. macOS will display this information in a handy graph so you can figure out where you procrastinate the most.
To view statistics, go to System Preferences → Screen Time → Application Usage. The programs you open will be displayed in a bar chart. The arrows in the upper right corner of the window will allow you to switch between days.
The longer you sit in a particular application, the higher the corresponding column. Below the graph is the average time you devote to a particular group: work programs, social networks, games, music …
The next item “Notifications” contains statistics on all displayed pop-up messages. And they are known to be a significant source of distraction. On the graph, you will see the programs that bother you the most.
Finally, the Wake Up section tells you how often you wake up or turn on your Mac.
And if you have Screen Time sync enabled with your iPhone, it will also be shown on the graph.
How to use the rest mode
This feature can be used to make your Mac unavailable after a certain hour. This will prevent yourself from sitting at the computer until late and will be forced to go to do something more useful, such as work out or go to bed early.
Another macOS “Relax” mode is ideal for fighting procrastination and distractions. With it, you can guarantee that you will not be interrupted from work, simply because you will not be able to open extraneous programs.
In the Screen Time settings section, select the “At rest” section on the left and click “Enable”. Specify from what time to activate this mode.
If you want, you can click the “Customize” button and set different hours for individual days, if on weekends you can afford to sit at the computer longer.
In Rest Mode, macOS will prevent you from running any applications other than those listed in the Always Allowed list. Click the appropriate item in the panel on the left and mark useful programs that you constantly need: for example, word processing, spreadsheets or books.
In addition to them, telephone calls will also work. The system will block everything else.
How to set restrictions for apps and sites
Idle mode affects all of your Mac’s programs, but it can sometimes be useful to set specific restrictions for individual applications without taking over the entire system. This is useful if, for example, you set yourself a goal to play or hang out with social networks for no longer than an hour a day.
Open the Application Limits section and click the + sign to create a new limit.
A list of all the programs you have installed, grouped by category, will appear. You can select only specific applications that you want to restrict, or block categories entirely.
The following is how much time you give yourself to use restricted apps. When the limit comes to an end, the program will be blocked and a stub will appear in its window.
Five minutes before that, you will be notified to finish working with the application.
It is especially pleasant that Screen Time is able to set a usage limit for websites as well. To do this, scroll to the bottom of the list of programs and open the “Websites” category. Click Add Website and enter the address of the service you want to restrict. You can specify as many addresses as you like.
If at the end of the time you try to go to the limited site, you will see the same stub. In this way, addiction to social media can be dealt with. However, restrictions only work in Safari.
Limits are reset every day at midnight.
How to limit displayed content to children
Another useful Mac feature that comes in handy if your little children sometimes sit at the computer and need to be monitored.
Click System Preferences → Screen Time → Content & Privacy. Here you can disable the ability to visit sites for adults or even allow the user to open only permitted resources, disable profanity in Siri and in the Dictionary, or prohibit multiplayer games.
On the “Stores” tab, age limits are set for films, TV series and applications so that children do not accidentally look at what they are not supposed to. You can also restrict the installation of applications on the iPhone.
The Apps tab lets you turn off certain apps like Camera and Siri on Mac, and apps on iOS.
How to enable statistics synchronization
Optionally, you can sync Screen Time data across all of your Apple devices. Thus, the used applications, received notifications and iOS awakenings will be counted in the general diagram.
Open “System Preferences” → “Screen Time” → “Options” and enable the option “Track time on all devices”.
This will give you a more detailed picture.
How to protect settings from being changed
In the “Options” section, you can enable the request for a passcode, without which no one can change the “Screen Time” settings.
If you are the only Mac user and want to limit yourself so as not to rely on sheer willpower, enable the Use Screen Time Passcode option and select Allow this user to administer this computer in the window that appears.
Then you will finally be prompted to enter a four-digit password code.
If you want to restrict your children who abuse the computer, create separate accounts for them and enable password protection for the settings, otherwise they will bypass your restrictions.