I'm reading about a million blogs, and writing precisely zero of them myself but here-- a link with some commentary.
This how-to from LifeHacker teaches you how to make a productivity timer on a Mac using Apple Scripts. You basically set your computer up to ask you, once every 20 minutes, "Are you sure you're spending your time wisely?" If you click "Yes" the timer starts over again, and you continue what you were doing before.
On one level, this seems like the greatest idea ever. If I had I known this existed while I was writing my thesis senior year, I would have made about 82 different varieties of it. Every 20 minutes "Margaret, stop searching for terrible music videos on YouTube. Your facebook competition with Kjero and Terrell is not as important AS GRADUATING. Click YES if you value your future." Every 10 minutes "No, Margaret. You aren't hungry. You have 8 trays of food from the dining hall. You have NO EXCUSE to go to the market. Click YES because you know I'm right." Every 2.5 minutes "You know, Margaret, looking up EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. in the built in OpenOffice Theasaurus might SEEM more prodcutive than trolling YouTube. But it isn't. So stop. Some acceptable synonyms for YES you could use to answer this reminder are 'Affirmative','Amen', 'Beyond a doubt', 'Indubitably', and 'Without fail.'" I would have thought they were the ANSWER TO ALL MY PRAYERS.
But you know what they really would have been? Another meaningless form of procrastination. Because when that little window that I'd probably spent 4.5 hours making popped up and said "Margaret, you can't sit here playing ColorJunction on your iGoogle home page, waiting until your iGoogle theme switches from its "Late Night" color scheme to its "Sunrise" color scheme just because you're curious exactly what time the change happens. YOU HAVE REAL WORK TO DO."? I would have been like "SHUT UP WINDOW! YOU DON'T KNOW MY LIFE! Yes, I'm spending my time valuably!" And then I would have been like "....well. Just one more game of ColorJunction then..." It may have made me weep tears of frustration (SO MANY WINDOWS TO CLOSE! All these subscripts are making my computer SO SLOW!) but it would have done NOTHING to motivate me because? Anyone useless enough to need PRODUCTIVITY REMINDERS is probably too useless for them to be effective.
I also like how, basically, these grown-up computer programmers are crafting little widgets to behave like their mother. "Honey, shouldn't you be in bed now?" "Honey, are you sure sitting in front of that computer is the best way to spend your time?" "Honey, shouldn't you go out and enjoy the sunshine?" If they wanted this kind of treatment, why don't they just move home and live with their mothers? It would be less effort, save them the expense of an apartment, and allow them to be nagged to their hearts' content.